MANILA - Malacañang on Friday again defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s style of leadership after the tough-talking Filipino leader landed on the cover of TIME Magazine’s May 14 international edition, along with other leaders perceived to be “strongmen.”
The cover story, titled “The 'Strongmen Era' Is Here. Here’s What It Means for You” and written by Ian Bremmer, also features Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It describes Duterte as "a former mayor who talked more like a mob boss than a President on his promises to wipe out the drug trade with his own brand of justice."
Reacting to the feature story, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Filipinos have come to appreciate Duterte’s brand of leadership.
“Regardless of slant, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has demonstrated strong and decisive leadership – a quality appreciated by Filipinos as evidenced by the Chief Executive’s high satisfaction, approval, trust and performance ratings,” Roque said in a statement.
Duterte has attracted global attention for his harsh language and sheer bravado, something he is not apologetic for.
Palace officials often take the task of tempering the President’s message, especially when the matter involved is diplomatic in nature.
“Filipinos have learned not to take PRRD (Duterte) literally with his colorful language, but they have surely taken seriously the issues the President has espoused, such as the war on drugs and crime.”
Duterte has received domestic and international criticism for his war on drugs, which has resulted in about 4,000 deaths based on official police data. The President and his senior officials have been saying the drug war is necessary in eradicating criminality and protecting the youth.
“The drug problem is not only a Philippine concern. It is a global burden and the Philippines’ war on drugs has been acknowledged by countries and leaders, including Indonesia, China, [United States] President Donald Trump and police leaders from other Southeast Asian countries,” Roque said.
“The President’s brand of justice strictly adheres to the rule of law where the dismantling of the drug apparatus ensures the proper investigation of all drug-related killings," he added.