Philippine voters head to the polls Monday to elect their next president following a volatile campaign on issues that carry a deep significance for the United States as well as one of its closest allies in Southeast Asia.
According to the latest polls, Rodrigo Duterte, the colorful mayor of Davao, has risen to the top with tough talk on crime and cleaning up corruption. His boastful manner and appeal as a political maverick have earned him comparisons to GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I will solve drugs, criminality and corruption in three to six months,” Duterte said in a recent interview with Al Jazeera. “I am the only remaining card left for the Filipinos to deal with the situation.”
Duterte is the most divisive candidate in an election that has been a four-way race for most of the campaign. A poll by Pulse Asia conducted from April 26 to 29 showed Duterte getting 33% of the vote to 22% for former government minister Mar Roxas, the choice of the Philippines’ departing president, and 21% for Sen. Grace Poe, daughter of a Philippine movie star.
“Without a doubt, this is the most polarizing election the Philippines has had since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, a professor of political science at De La Salle University in the Philippines. “And that in itself doesn’t bode very well for the country in terms of post-election national unity.”
The outspoken Duterte has also been called “The Punisher” and “Duterte Harry,” a play on Clint Eastwood’s vigilante detective Dirty Harry. As mayor of Davao, which is on restive Mindanao Island, Duterte wins praise from supporters for cleaning up the city’s drug and crime problems…. see more