The recent surveys shocked many who’ve been following the race to next year’s presidential elections. Overtaking all other candidates, Rodrigo Duterte, the incumbent mayor of Davao, is now poised to be a leading candidate with more and more saying they would likely vote him into Malacañang.
It’s remarkable how this happened at this stage in the race. In October, when the deadline for candidacy took place, Duterte again and again said he would not run for president and instead would pursue another term as Davao’s mayor. It seemed the race was down to three people and the public had to learn as much as they could about them before next May. These three names have been talked about for almost the past decade and more. Binay, Poe and Roxas were shoe-ins to run in 2016 and all three have made their mark and home in Metro Manila. With Poe, Binay and Roxas seemingly chasing one another’s lead these past few months, Duterte chose to bide his time in his hometown, waiting and planning.
The rise of Duterte doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and has traditional pundits and analysts of the political game at a loss. This sudden upswing and popularity for a man who has caused so much controversy reminds us of another presidential candidate: Donald Trump.
Anyone who’s been following the United States presidential race or at least turned to CNN for a second or two would know that Donald Trump, the multibillionaire, not to mention multi-bankrupted presidential hopeful, is leading all his other republican party competitors by a mile (candidate Ben Carson’s apparent catch-up has slipped). Experts say Trump’s popularity can be summed up by two things: first, he’s outside of Washington, never having officially run for public office before. The republican voters see Trump as someone new, someone who isn’t part of the current US political gridlock. Second is that he says what he wants. There seems to be no filter on Trump saying whatever he likes. Whether it be about religion, race, war, women, or immigration, Trump will say what’s on his mind. Controversial or not, it’s hitting the right audience, as current republican polls show. With the conservative party pressured more than ever to select its candidate in the next few months, right now it’s safe to say that they’re going for Trump 2016.
Being at the top of current presidential polls isn’t the only thing Trump shares with Duterte. For starters, both are seen as outsiders by most political experts. Trump came from business and it’s his first time to officially run for president. He is not running under any lobbying party nor does he have a political track record — good or bad —behind him. Duterte made his name in Davao, away from the country’s capital of Metro Manila. Both Trump and Duterte were viewed at first as entering the race in order to “stir the pot” — yet now they’re the ones leading the race.
Probably the most noticeable of all is how they speak and present themselves to the public. Like I said earlier, Trump seems to have no PR filter, and the same goes for Duterte. They’ve both hit the Pope in one shape or form. Trump was one of the first to comment against some of the Pope’s words when the leader of the Catholic Church spoke in Washington last September. Duterte, on the other hand, cursed the Pope a couple of weeks ago during his presidential declaration party hosted by PDP-Laban.
On social issues, both have made no qualms about how they would deal with pressing matters and meter out their own brand of justice. Trump said he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants if he became president. He said he’d assemble something he called a “deportation force” as well as build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. While critics and his fellow presidential nominees have said what Trump plans on doing is “absurd’ and “inhumane,” it hasn’t made Trump stop and rethink his stance — nor has it really hurt his polling. Trump’s tough brand of justice and exclusion of the public’s rights puts him in the same camp as Duterte. Not shying away from questions about his leadership in Davao, known for its infamous Death Squads, the current mayor has said time and time again that he often takes matters into his own hands and prefers to bypass due process. In the same proclamation with PDP-Laban, Duterte admitted to killing kidnappers, even saying that he dragged the bodies of those he killed to their car and burned the car with the corpses inside.
Outside of politics, both Trump and Duterte have also had their share of controversy regarding the opposite sex. Trump has often showed a virulent sexist and misogynist streak, as when he accused Fox TV anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly of being too hard on him because “She had blood coming out of her eyes, she had blood coming out of her wherever,” clearly alluding to Kelly’s menstrual cycle. Another incident had Trump tell a female reporter, “Like you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.” It’s no surprise for someone like Trump to be so shallow and objectify women like that; it’s quite surprising, however, that he’s still at the top of the polls.
Duterte meanwhile — and thankfully — has not said anything as cruel as Trump has, but his multiple female partners raises certain questions (he is a self-described “womanizer”). In a campaign event in Taguig a couple of weeks ago, Duterte was quoted saying, “If I can love 100 million and one (Filipinos), I can love four women at the same time.” And adding that if he ever wins and becomes president, “Buksan ko ang libro ng Malacañang. Kung may magagandang naghihintay diyan sa labas, buksan ko ‘yung pinto ng kwarto ko.”
Perhaps the biggest similarity between Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte is that they are both alpha males. For better or worse, both men act and live like they can do whatever the hell they want. They don’t worry about the consequences that come their way. They think little of those who are against them and use their power (whatever shape or form that may be) to pressure others and get their way. It doesn’t matter if people hate them for it or not. They don’t give a damn, quite frankly, because for Trump and Duterte, it’s their way or the highway. And right now, the public seems to approve.