Rodrigo Duterte

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Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte.jpg
16th President of the Philippines
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
Vice PresidentLeni Robredo
Preceded byBenigno Aquino III
Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2016
Vice MayorPaolo Duterte
Preceded bySara Duterte
Succeeded bySara Duterte
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2010
Vice MayorLuis Bonguyan
Sara Duterte
Preceded byBenjamin de Guzman
Succeeded bySara Duterte
In office
February 2, 1988 – June 30, 1998
Vice MayorDominador Zuño (acting)
Luis Bonguyan
Benjamin de Guzman
Preceded byJacinto Rubillar
Succeeded byBenjamin de Guzman
Vice Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2010 – June 30, 2013
MayorSara Duterte
Preceded bySara Duterte
Succeeded byPaolo Duterte
In office
May 2, 1986 – November 27, 1987
Officer in Charge
MayorZafiro Respicio
Preceded byCornelio Maskariño
Succeeded byGilbert Abellera
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives
from Davao City's 1st District
In office
June 30, 1998 – June 30, 2001
Preceded byProspero Nograles
Succeeded byProspero Nograles
Personal details
Rodrigo Roa Duterte

(1945-03-28) March 28, 1945 (age 75)
Maasin, Commonwealth of the Philippines
Political partyPDP–Laban (2001–present)
Other political
Kabataang Makabayan[1] (1970s)
Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (1998–2001)
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (2011–present)
Coalition for Change (2016–present)
Elizabeth Zimmerman
(m. 1973; ann. 2000)
Domestic partnerHoneylet Avanceña
Children4, including Paolo and Sara
ParentsVicente Duterte
Soledad Roa
ResidenceMalacañang Palace[2][3][4]
EducationLyceum of the Philippines University (B.A.)
San Beda University (LL.B.)
WebsiteOfficial website

Rodrigo Roa Duterte KGCR (/dˈtɜːrtə/; Tagalog: [roˈdɾigo ɾowa dʊˈtɛɾtɛ] (About this soundlisten); born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong and Rody,[5] is a Filipino politician who is the 16th and incumbent President of the Philippines and the first from Mindanao to hold the office.[6][7][8][9] He is the chairperson of PDP–Laban, the ruling political party in the Philippines. Duterte took office at age 71 on June 30, 2016, making him the oldest person to assume the Philippine presidency; the record was previously held by Sergio Osmeña at the age of 65.[10]

Duterte in full Battle Dress Uniform (BDU)

Born in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, before becoming vice mayor and, subsequently, mayor of the city in the wake of the Philippine Revolution of 1986. Duterte won seven terms and served as mayor of Davao for over 22 years.

Frequently described as a populist[11][12][13] and a nationalist,[14][15][16] Duterte's political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals.[17] Human rights groups have documented over 1,400 killings allegedly by death squads operating in Davao between 1998 and May 2016; the victims were mainly drug users, petty criminals and street children.[18] A 2009 report by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights confirmed the "systematic practice of extrajudicial killings" by the Davao Death Squad.[19][20] Duterte has alternately confirmed and denied his involvement.[21] The Office of the Ombudsman closed an investigation in January 2016 stating that they found no evidence that the Davao Death Squad exists, and no evidence to connect the police or Duterte with the killings.[19][20] The case has since been reopened.[22] Duterte has repeatedly confirmed that he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.[23][24][25]

On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 39% of the votes, defeating four other candidates, namely Mar Roxas[26] of the Liberal Party (23.5%), Senator Grace Poe (21.4%), former vice president Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (12.7%), and the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People's Reform Party (3.4%).[27] During his campaign, he promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and end crime within six months.[28][29][30] His domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by initiating the Philippine Drug War. According to the Philippine National Police the death total passed 7,000 in January 2017, after which the police stopped publishing data.[31] Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since his election, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations.[32] He has declared his intention to pursue an "independent foreign policy",[33] and sought to distance the Philippines from the United States and European Union and pursue closer ties with China and Russia.

Early life

Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin.[34] His father was Vicente G. Duterte (1911–1968), a Cebuano lawyer, and his mother, Soledad Duterte (née Roa; 1916–2012), was a school teacher from Cabadbaran, Agusan and a civic leader of Maranao descent. Duterte's father was mayor of Danao, Cebu, and subsequently the provincial governor of (the then-undivided) Davao province. Rodrigo's cousin Ronald was mayor of Cebu City from 1983 to 1986. Ronald's father, Ramon Duterte, also held the position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes consider the Cebu-based political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives.[35] Duterte also has relatives from the Roa clan in Leyte through his mother's side.[36] Duterte's family lived in Maasin, and in his father's hometown in Danao, until he was four years old.[37] The Dutertes initially moved to Mindanao in 1948 but still went back and forth to the Visayas until 1949.[38] They finally settled in the Davao Region in 1950. Vicente worked as a lawyer engaged in private practice. Soledad worked as a teacher until 1952 when Vicente entered politics.


Duterte went to Laboon Elementary School in Maasin, for a year.[36] He spent his remaining elementary days at Santa Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education in the High School Department of the then-Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College) in today's city of Digos in the now-defunct Davao province, after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) High School due to misconduct.[35] He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines in Manila. He obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. In the same year, he passed the bar exam. Duterte eventually became a Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977–79, Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979–81, Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981–83, and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983–86.

Sexual abuse

Duterte has said that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a minor.[39] After he was challenged by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and AdDU officials to name the priest and file a case against him, Duterte then revealed the priest's name as Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ (d. 1975).[39] The Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines confirmed that according to press reports in the United States, in May 2007, the Society of Jesus agreed to a tentative payout of US$16 million to settle claims that Falvey sexually abused at least nine children in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1975. Accusations against Falvey began in 2002, and he was never charged with a crime. Additionally in May 2008, the Diocese of Sacramento paid $100,000 settlement to a person allegedly raped and molested by Mark's brother, Fr. Arthur Falvey. However, it was not clearly indicated in the report if Mark Falvey was assigned at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao.[40] When asked why he did not complain when the abuse supposedly happened, Duterte claimed that he was too young to complain about the priest's abuse and was intimidated by authorities at that time. He also stated that he never disclosed that information after he was expelled and moved to a different high school and especially not to his family.[41]

Shooting of student at law school

Duterte stated at a rally in April 2016 that he shot a fellow student who had bullied him about his Visayan origin as well as other students of the same ethnicity, while at San Beda law college. He said "But the truth is, I'm used to shooting people. When we were about to graduate from San Beda, I shot a person." Duterte said that he shot the student in a corridor at the college when the said student called him names again. He later told a reporter that the student survived, but refused to answer any further questions about the incident.[42]

However, in an interview aired at 24 Oras and published on the official GMA News Online website on April 22, 2016, retired labor arbiter Arthur Amansec said Duterte and Octavio Goco at that time were both playing with a gun as it was normal for students to bring guns to school in the seventies. Amansec is Duterte's former classmate in San Beda College who witnessed the incident. He added that "the bullet hit the school's wooden floor and was embedded there." Amansec emphasized that Duterte and Goco remained friends until Goco died in the United States years later.[43]

Mayor of Davao City

Then-Mayor Duterte (left) with then-President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor by president Corazon Aquino.[44] In 1988, he ran for mayor and won, serving until 1998. He set a precedent by designating deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the Philippines. In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st District of Davao City (under the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino coalition). In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was re-elected in 2004 and in 2007.[45]

In 1995, after Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino, was executed in Singapore after confessing to a double murder, Duterte allegedly burned a flag of Singapore (though this claim was later denied) and joined 1,000 employees of Davao City in protest.[46][47]

In 2013, Davao City sent rescue and medical teams to Tacloban to give aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known in the country as Typhoon Yolanda. Financial assistance was also given to Bohol and Cebu for the earthquake victims.[48]

Then-newly-elected Davao City Vice Mayor Duterte reading his inaugural speech in June 2010

In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as mayor. He has been offered the Interior Secretary post four times by Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III, but rejected all of them.[35]

Duterte also passed the city's Women Development Code, which aims "to uphold the rights of women and the belief in their worth and dignity as human beings".[49][50] Duterte banned swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants in Davao City.[51] Duterte also gained prominence for supporting the first-ever Gawad Kalinga Village inside a jail facility which is only located in Davao City. It is a home-type jail with ten cottages built inside the compound, which now serve as home for women inmates.[52]

Law and order

Davao had the highest murder rate, the second highest rape rate, and the fourth highest number of index crimes in the Philippines, according to official police raw data for the years 2010 to 2015. Nevertheless, Duterte claimed that the city was one of the world's safest, a narrative that gained currency in the national media, creating a widespread public perception that has been a significant factor in establishing support for his nationwide drug policy.[53][54][55]

As of April 2015, Davao City improved to 5th in ranking of the world's safest cities, with a crime index of 18.18 and a safety index of 81.82. Osaka, Japan tops the list with a safety index of 84.47, followed by Seoul, South Korea (83.42) and Singapore (83.36).[56]

As of October 2019, Davao City ranks second as the top safest city in Southeast Asia, according to an online user-contributed survey site

Based on the Crime Index 2019 Mid-Year of Numbeo, Davao City has a Safety Index rate of 72.50. Davao's rank rose from last year's number four with 71.21.[57]

Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal. In Davao, by city ordinance, police ensure that prostitutes have a valid health card, but do not arrest them.[58] In 2010, the Philippine Child Protection Unit stated that Davao was one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines.[59] Jeanette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, a Davao-based NGO that helps prostitutes, said in October 2016 that child prostitution had sharply increased over the past two years. She said that children were cheaper and more marketable.[60] Nevertheless, the city was awarded "Most Child-Friendly City for Highly-Urbanized Category" in 1998, 1999, 2013 and 2014.[61][62]

The City Council amended ordinance No. 1627, Series of 1994, to impose a prohibition on selling, serving, drinking, and consuming alcoholic beverages from 01:00 until 08:00 each morning. Executive Order No. 39 was signed by Duterte, reducing the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City in the interest of public safety and order.[63] Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 to impose an order creating the implementing of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367-12, Series of 2012.[64] Davao City's Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002 by the City Council through the support of Duterte.[65]

Davao acquired 10 ambulances for central 911 intended for medical emergencies and 42 mobile patrol vehicles and motorcycles for the Davao City Police Office (the first and only 9-1-1 emergency telephone number in Asia which is also free of charge).[66] Duterte, through Executive Order No. 24, ordered all shopping malls and commercial centers to install, operate and maintain high end and high definition closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all entrance and exit points of their premises.[67]

In 2015, Davao City was among the local government units awarded with a "Seal of Good Local Governance" by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.[68]

In response to Duterte's comments in 2014 relating to killing a person suspected of smuggling rice in Davao City, the Office of the President of the Philippines issued a statement saying, "Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods," while the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has condemned killing as a sin and insists on the protection of rights of the accused. Human rights activists then said that Duterte built a culture of impunity in the city.[69]

In early September 2015, an incident was reported of a tourist being forced to swallow his own cigarette butt in a local bar in Davao City after the tourist refused to comply with the public anti-smoking ordinance of the city. Duterte was contacted by the bar owner and the then-mayor personally went into the bar and forced the tourist to swallow his cigarette butt. Duterte was then met with criticisms especially from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).[70]

Davao Death Squad

Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009.

We're the ninth safest city. How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world's safest cities? Kill them all [criminals].

— Duterte, May 15, 2015[71]

Duterte, who has been dubbed "The Punisher" by Time magazine,[72] has been linked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to extrajudicial killings of over 1,400 alleged criminals and street children by vigilante death squads.[17][73] In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, "The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive."[74] Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001–2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of "criminals", some of whom were later executed.[75] In July 2005 at a crime summit at the Manila Hotel, Duterte said, "Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs."[76]

Duterte has denied responsibility for the extrajudicial killings. He has also frequently announced his support for them. According to Reuters, "Duterte's loud approval for hundreds of execution-style killings of drug users and criminals over nearly two decades helped propel him to the highest office of a crime-weary land."[17] In 2009 Duterte said: "If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination."[77] In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that, if elected president, he may kill up to 100,000 criminals. After the said confirmation, Duterte challenged human rights officials to file a case against him if they could provide evidence to his links with vigilante groups.[78]

Federalism advocacy

In September 2014, Duterte and former mayors and governors, calling themselves the Mindanao Council of Leaders, advocated for a federalist government.[79] A month later, Duterte attended an event sponsored by the Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City.[80] In December 2014, Duterte held a summit entitled "Mindanaons Forging Unity Toward a Federal System of Government".[81]

2016 presidential campaign

Duterte–Cayetano 2016 campaign logo
Duterte and allies campaigning in Pandacan, Manila

As early as the first quarter of 2015, Duterte made hints to the media of his intention to run for president in the 2016 elections. However, he denied these plans numerous times amidst clamor from his supporters for him to run.

In January, Duterte said he would abolish Congress if he chose to run for President and was elected.[82] On November 21, in a private gathering with fraternity brothers from San Beda College of Law, Duterte formally announced his presidential bid and also finally accepted Alan Peter Cayetano's offer to be his running mate, and named his daughter, Sara Duterte, as his substitute for Mayor.[83][84]

In his campaign, he said he would introduce a federal parliamentary form of government. He also promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and eradicate crime in six months.[85][86]

Constitutional reform

Rodrigo Duterte campaigned for decentralization and a shift to federal government during the 2016 presidential election. In an October 2014 forum organized by Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City prior to joining the presidential race, the then-mayor of Davao City called for the creation of two federal states for Moro people as a solution to the problems besetting Mindanao.[87] Mayor Duterte said that Nur Misuari and his Moro National Liberation Front don't see eye-to-eye with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which the administration of President Benigno Aquino III had inked a peace deal with. He also said that the "template of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is federal", but what is granted to the Bangsamoro should also be granted to other Moro groups and other regions in the country.[88] In a dialogue with the Makati Business Club prior to the elections, Duterte said he is open to "toning down the Constitution" to accommodate more foreign investors to the Philippines.[89] He also said he is open to up to 70 percent foreign ownership of businesses in the country and foreign lease of lands up to 60 years, but will "leave it to Congress to decide".[89]

Rape comments

At a campaign rally on April 12, 2016, Duterte told supporters that, as Mayor, he thought he "should have been first" to rape Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed during the 1989 Davao hostage crisis. He recalled examining her corpse concluding that she was raped but also remarked that he "should have gone first".[90]

After being condemned for his comments, Duterte later apologized for the incident and acknowledged the comment as a "bad remark" saying he regretted his "gutter language" but would not apologize for being misinterpreted. He insists though that the remark was not a "joke" as reported by some media outlets, saying that he stated it in a narrative. He further said that he was not apologizing for stating the remark reasoning that he made the remark out of "utter anger" when he recalled the events.[91] He threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the US and Australia, if elected, after their ambassadors criticized his comments.[86]

His daughter Sara Duterte subsequently announced on social media that she was a rape victim, but would still vote for her father. He said that he doubted her story, jokingly referring to her as a "drama queen".[92]

2016 Philippine electoral vote results

Human rights

In a campaign speech on April 27 to business leaders, he said his presidency would be "a bloody one", but that he would issue "a thousand pardons a day" to police and soldiers accused of human rights abuses, and would also issue a presidential pardon to himself for mass murder at the end of his six-year term.[86]

Election to the Presidency

On May 30, 2016, the 16th Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Duterte as the President-elect of the Philippines after he topped the official count by the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 presidential election with 16,601,997 votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, Mar Roxas.[93][94][95] Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo on the other hand, was proclaimed as the Vice President-elect of the Philippines with 14,418,817 votes, narrowly defeating Senator Bongbong Marcos by 263,473 votes.[96]


Presidential styles of
Rodrigo Roa Duterte[97][98]
Seal of the President of the Philippines.svg
Reference stylePresident Duterte, His Excellency (rarely used)[98]
Spoken styleYour President, Your Excellency (rarely used)
Alternative styleMr. President, President Mayor[99]

The Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte began at noon on June 30, 2016, when he became the 16th President of the Philippines, succeeding Benigno Aquino III.

At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Duterte is also the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President, the second Cebuano to become president (after Sergio Osmeña), the third Cebuano-speaking president (after Osmeña and Carlos P. Garcia), the first Visayan from Mindanao and the fourth Visayan overall (after Osmeña, Manuel Roxas and Garcia).[100]

President-elect Duterte (left) and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace on inauguration day, June 30, 2016
Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines before Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes at Malacañang Palace while his children look on, June 30, 2016.

A Pulse Asia survey conducted from July 2–8 showed that Duterte had a trust rating of 91%, the highest of the six presidents since the Marcos dictatorship (the previous highest was Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III with 87%).[26] One year after taking office his trust rating was 81%.[101] Shortly after his inauguration on June 30, Duterte held his first Cabinet meeting to lay out their first agenda, which included the country's disaster risk reduction management, decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the country's main gateway, and expressed his ideas and concerns regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea prior to the announcement of the verdict of the Philippines' arbitration case against China over the issue,[102] which the Philippines later won.[103] Four days later, on July 4, Duterte issued his first executive order entitled "Reengineering the Office of the President Towards Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals", allowing his Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., to supervise over several agencies that focus on poverty reduction.[104] On July 23, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 also known as the Freedom of Information Order.[105]

Duterte is greeted by overseas Filipinos during his official visit to Vietnam, September 2016.

On August 1, 2016, Duterte launched a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide complaint hotline, 8888, while also changing the country's emergency telephone number from 1-1-7 to 9-1-1, which was first instituted in Davao City.[106]

On August 7, Duterte approved the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig scheduled for October 18,[107] saying that Marcos was qualified for the burial at the cemetery due to him being a "former president and a soldier". The decision was vehemently opposed, due to "the brutal, oppressive and corrupt nature of Marcos's two-decade regime".[108] An online petition which received over 30,000 signatures stated:

Burying Ferdinand E Marcos alongside our nation's heroes who fought for our freedom is an affront to the thousands of lives tortured and murdered during his reign. Laying him to rest at the Heroes' Cemetery is a disdainful act that will send a message to the future of our nation—our children—that the world we live in rewards forceful and violent hands.[108]

Following the September 2 bombing in Davao City that killed 14 people in the city's central business district, on September 3 Duterte declared a "state of lawlessness", and on the following day issued Proclamation No. 55 to officially declare a "state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao".[109] The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered to "suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao" and to "prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere". Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the declaration "[did] not specify the imposition of curfews" and would remain in force indefinitely. He explained: "The recent incidents, the escape of terrorists from prisons, the beheadings, then eventually what happened in Davao. That was the basis."[110]

In December 2016, Duterte was ranked 70th on Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People.[111][112] On December 7, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 10 creating a consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.[113] Duterte signed Executive Order 26 imposing a smoking ban in public places on May 16, 2017.[114] In the same month, the Duterte administration began to implement the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.[115] During his presidential campaign and transition, Duterte called for the reimposition of capital punishment in the country to execute criminals involved in "heinous" crimes, such as illegal drug trade, insisting on hanging.[116]

While adjusting to working and residing at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte divides his workweek between Manila and Davao City by spending three days in each city, utilizing the Malacañang of the South while in Davao.[117]

Domestic policy

Anti-drug campaign

Duterte presents a chart which he claims illustrates a drug trade network of drug syndicates, on July 7, 2016.

After his inauguration, Duterte gave a speech in Tondo, Manila, where he urged Filipino citizens to kill drug addicts. He asked the communist rebels known as the New People's Army to "use your kangaroo courts to kill them to speed up the solution to our problem".[118][119]

Department of Justice spokesperson and undersecretary Markk Perete clarified the “shoot-to-kill” order the President gave to police officers whom he instructed to go after “erroneously released” prisoners who will refuse to surrender.[120]

Perete stated that what the President said was if in the course of effecting a re-arrest, those sought to be rearrested pose a real threat to the life of apprehending officers, then the officers may take such action necessary to ensure their safety.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a "kill list".[121] Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat urged the Philippine House of Representatives to investigate the "spate of extrajudicial killings and/or summary executions of suspected violators of laws on illegal drugs and other suspected criminals".[122] Senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima urged Duterte's administration to cease the extrajudicial killings and said that she would file a resolution for the Philippine Senate to conduct an investigation.[123] The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also asked Duterte to investigate the increasing number of extrajudicial killings.[124] The Duterte administration demanded critics to provide evidence.[125]

Duterte has justified the drug war by claiming that the Philippines was becoming a "narco-state". According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the prevalence of drug use in the country is lower than the global average.[126] Duterte has dismissed human rights concerns by dehumanizing drug users, stating in August 2016: "Crime against humanity? In the first place, I'd like to be frank with you. Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?"[127] In the first three months of Duterte's term in office, according to police figures, over 3,000 killings were attributed to his nationwide anti-drug campaign. More than half were attributed to vigilantes. At the beginning of October, a senior police officer told The Guardian that ten "special ops" official police death squads had been operating, and that he had personally been involved in killing 87 suspects. He described how the corpses were dumped at the roadside ("salvage" victims), or had their heads wrapped in masking tape with a cardboard placard labelling them as a drug offender, so that the killing would not be investigated. The chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, Chito Gascon, was quoted in the report: "I am not surprised, I have heard of this." The Philippine National Police declined to comment. The report stated: "although The Guardian can verify the policeman's rank and his service history, there is no independent, official confirmation for the allegations of state complicity and police coordination in mass murder."[128]

Capital punishment

Duterte speaking with PNP Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa in the Malacañang Palace on August 16, 2016

During the 2016 election, Duterte campaigned to restore the death penalty in the Philippines.[129][130][131] Duterte, who won the election in May 2016, supports restoration of the death penalty by hanging.[132] It has been reported that he wants capital punishment for criminals involved in illegal drugs, gun-for-hire syndicates and those who commit "heinous crimes" such as rape, robbery or car theft where the victim is murdered.[132] Duterte has theatrically vowed "to litter Manila Bay with the bodies of criminals".[133] In December 2016, the bill to resume capital punishment for certain "heinous offenses" swiftly passed out of Committee in the House of Representatives; it passed the full House of Representatives in February 2017.[134] However, the law reinstating the death penalty stalled in the Senate in April 2017, where it did not appear to have enough votes to pass.[135][136]

Mindanao insurgency

Duterte welcomes Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad following his release from Abu Sayyaf captivity.

Duterte has said that Moro dignity is what the MILF and MNLF are struggling for, and that they are not terrorists. He acknowledged that the Moros were subjected to wrongdoing, historical and in territory.[137]

Duterte was endorsed in the election by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari[138] due to his background in Mindanao.[139] Jesus Dureza was his second choice.[140] Other Muslims also supported Duterte and denounced Roxas, the Aquino-supported pick.[141]

During the Mindanao Hariraya Eid al-Fitr 2016 convention in Davao City on July 8, 2016, Duterte vowed to address the Moro conflict and bring peace in Mindanao, assuring the Filipino Muslim community that "something will change" before the end of his term. He said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) both support his proposal for federalism in the Philippines, which he says is the only solution to the Bangsamoro peace process. Duterte said that if the proposal for the country's shift to federalism fails or is not desired by the Filipino people, he will vow to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. He also added that the Basic Law should benefit both MILF and MNLF, saying he is willing to negotiate with both secessionists to initiate a "reconfiguration" of territory.[142][143]

A crowd of Muslims were attending the speech by Duterte where he accused America of bringing terrorism to themselves, saying that terrorism is not the result of the Middle East.[144] He railed against the actions undertaken in the Middle East by the USA.[145] Duterte blamed the war on Mindanao on colonialist Christianity being brought to the Philippines in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, saying there was peace before that and that they were made to fight their "Malay brother" by Christians.[146]

Duterte meeting with MNLF chairman, founder and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, November 3, 2016

The Bud Dajo Massacre inflicted upon the Moros was mentioned by President Duterte to criticize the United States and its President Barack Obama.[147] The massacre was cited a second time by Duterte in criticizing America while calling for the exit of American troops.[148]

On November 6, 2016, Duterte signed an executive order to expand the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to 21 members from 15, in which 11 will be decided by the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government. The commission was formed in December 2013 and is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro[149]

Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law on July 26, 2018,[150][151] which abolished the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and provided for the basic structure of government for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, following the agreements set forth in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.[152]


The Maute group, an ISIS-inspired terrorist group, had reportedly been able to establish a stronghold in Lanao del Sur since early 2016. The group had been blamed for the 2016 Davao City bombing and two attacks in Butig, Lanao del Sur, a town located south of Marawi, in 2016.[153] Before the Duterte administration, the Philippine government had downplayed the threat of ISIS in the Philippines.[154] Even after the February 2016 Butig clash with the Maute group, then-President Benigno Aquino III discounted the possibility of the Islamic State's presence in the country. He said that those behind the attack were just mercenaries wanting to be recognized by the Middle East-based terror group.[155]

In November 2016, President Duterte confirmed the Maute group's affiliation with the Islamic State.[153] Amidst fierce fighting in Butig on November 30, 2016, Duterte, in a command briefing in Lanao del Sur, warned the Maute group: "Ayaw ko makipag-away sa inyo. Ayaw ko makipag-patayan, (I do not want to fight with you. I don't want us killing each other) but please, do not force my hand. I cannot be forever traveling here every month para lang makipag-usap (just to talk), at pagtalikod ko patayan na naman (and when I turn around, there's killing again). I do not want to mention anything, but please do not force my hand into it."[156][157] On December 2, 2016, as the military regained control of Butig, the retreating Maute fighters reportedly left a note threatening to behead Duterte.[158]

On May 23, 2017, clashes between Philippine government security forces and militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups erupted in the city of Marawi.[159]

On the same day, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 216 declaring a 60-day martial law in Mindanao following clashes between the AFP and the Maute group in Marawi, Lanao del Sur.[160] He said that the implementation is similar to Proclamation No. 1081 and expressed the possibility of extending the scope of the martial law nationwide if deemed necessary.[161]

The Battle of Marawi became the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines.[162]

According to the Philippine government, the clashes began during an offensive in Marawi to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the ISIL-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group.[163][164] A deadly firefight erupted when Hapilon's forces opened fire on the combined Army and police teams and called for reinforcements from the Maute group.[165]

Maute group militants attacked Camp Ranao and occupied several buildings in the city, including Marawi City Hall, Mindanao State University, a hospital, and the city jail.[165] They also occupied the main street and set fire to Saint Mary's Cathedral, Ninoy Aquino School, and Dansalan College, which is run by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).[163][166] The militants also took a priest and several churchgoers hostage.[167]

The Armed Forces of the Philippines stated that some of the terrorists were foreigners who had been in the country for a long time, offering support to the Maute group in Marawi. Their main objective was to raise an ISIS flag at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol and declare a wilayat or provincial ISIS territory in Lanao del Sur.[168][169]

The fighting lasted for five months until October 17, 2017, the day after the deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon. President Duterte declared Marawi as "liberated from terrorist influence".[170] This was followed by another October 23, 2017 pronouncement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the five-month battle against the terrorists in Marawi had finally ended.[171]

The rehabilitation of Marawi after the siege is subject to criticism from various groups and sectors due to perceived gaps in addressing the basic needs of displaced Maranao people. The criticism centered on the failure of the martial law to address basic human dignity issues in the area,[172] the delay in the recovery efforts by Task Force Bangon Marawi,[173] and the role of Chinese government firms and Duterte-allied business entities in the rehabilitation plan.[174] A year after the siege, a report was made indicating that most of the funds have been used for relief, while reconstruction projects remain few.[175]

Communist insurgency

In July 2016, Duterte directed his peace process advisor for the CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion, Silvestre Bello III, to lead a government panel in resuming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo, Norway, expressing hope that a peace treaty between the rebellions would be reached within a year.[176] The first talks began on August 22–26, 2016, in which the parties agreed upon "the affirmation of previously signed agreements, the reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees which 'protects the rights of negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel involved in peace negotiations',[177] and the accelerated progress for negotiations."[178] In February 2017, due to recent attacks and kidnapping of soldiers by members of the NPA despite the imposed ceasefire by the government and the rebel groups, President Duterte cancelled all negotiations with the CPP–NPA–NDF and labeled them a terrorist group.[179] He also ordered the arrest of all NDF negotiators.[180] Military offensive against the group resumed after Duterte's cancellation of ceasefire.[181]

Duterte's has also accused of indigenous schools in Mindanao of indoctrinating children with communist ideology and threatened to bomb them.[182][183][184]

Foreign policy

International trips made by Duterte during his presidency

The Duterte administration has vowed to pursue an "independent foreign policy" that would reject any meddling by foreign governments, reiterating Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution which states: "The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination." In September 2016, Duterte said: "We will observe and must insist on the time-honored principle of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and the commitment of peaceful settlements of dispute that will serve our people and protect the interests of our country."[33]

Duterte made his first international trips as president to Vientiane, Laos and Jakarta, Indonesia on September 5–9, 2016.[185]

China and Russia

Following his inauguration as president, Duterte mentioned his willingness to "reorient" his foreign policy towards China and Russia, particularly in the areas of trade and commerce.[186] During an interview with Al Jazeera, he expressed his willingness to conduct joint military exercises with China and Russia.[187] In September, Duterte said that he is considering purchasing military equipment, particularly weaponries and armaments, from China and Russia to strengthen the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in addressing insurgency and counter-terrorism, saying that deals between the Philippines and the two countries are already in discussion and that the Chinese and Russian governments have offered the Philippines soft loans that would be payable in 2025.[188]

Duterte's handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the bilateral meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 20, 2016

On October 18–21, 2016, Duterte visited Beijing to meet with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. While announcing his "separation" from the United States in front of Chinese and Filipino businessmen at the Philippines–China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing on October 20, Duterte also said that he would realign himself with the Chinese ideological flow and that he might also travel to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin to "tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines, and Russia".[189][190]

Duterte meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016.

On November 20, 2016, Duterte met with Putin during the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, Peru. Duterte has praised Putin's leadership skills and called him his "idol". Putin also invited Duterte to visit Moscow.[191][192] Duterte said that he would visit Moscow on May 25, 2017, where a defense cooperation agreement between the Philippines and Russia is expected to be finalized.[193]

During an interview with RT in November, Duterte said that the Philippines is "not ready" for military alliances with China and Russia due to the Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the Philippines and the U.S.; however, he clarified that the Philippines could seek stronger diplomatic cooperation with China and Russia, as well as other countries, "to make the world more peaceful".[194] Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev expounded on Duterte's statement by saying that the Russian government is offering a strategic partnership with the Philippines, not a military alliance, and added that Russia does not believe in establishing military alliances with Asia. However, Khovaev explained that the Russian government is open to assisting the Philippines in purchasing Russian-made weaponry.[195]

On May 1, 2017, following a visit to three Chinese naval ships at the Port of Davao, Duterte expressed interest in conducting joint military exercises between the Philippine Armed Forces and China's People's Liberation Army in Mindanao, particularly in the Sulu Sea.[196]

In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including the Philippines, have signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China's treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.[197]

Territorial disputes

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in the Hague announced its ruling in favor of the Philippines in its case filed under the Benigno Aquino III administration in 2013 against China on issues regarding the South China Sea under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including the latter's nine-dash line claim which the tribunal ruled had no legal basis.[103] Three days after, during a testimonial dinner in San Juan, Duterte asked former President Fidel Ramos to lead the Philippine envoy to Beijing for bilateral negotiations with China over the disputes.[198] Ramos accepted the offer on July 23,[199] but resigned on October 31.[200] During his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, Duterte said that his administration "strongly affirms and respects" the ruling and would use it as a guide to negotiate for a resolution on the territorial disputes.[201] Duterte prefers to discuss the issue quietly and directly with China and has vowed not to raise the issue before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.[202][203] Duterte said "he would not want to antagonize China" and would want to "maintain good relations with China" to "create an environment where we sit down and talk directly".[203]

On October 12, Duterte declared his intention to terminate joint US–Philippine naval patrols in the South China Sea, which he believes could needlessly antagonize China.[204] His reticent approach with China contrasts with his otherwise "belligerent rhetoric and swaggering persona"; he has received support for some political ads from an anonymous Chinese donor.[205]

On October 20 in Beijing, Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume direct talks on the dispute.[206]

When then U.S. Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson threatened China's positions on the islands, the Philippines said that Tillerson was speaking for the U.S. only in the U.S.'s interest and prerogatives.[207] Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte's Defense Secretary, rejected the possibility of war against China over the islands in the South China Sea.[208]

On April 6, 2017, Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to occupy and fortify at least nine uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. He announced plans to visit the Philippine-administered Thitu (Pag-asa) Island during Independence Day and raise a Philippine flag there.[209] Duterte also ordered the Philippine Navy to build structures on the Benham Rise in order to reassure the Philippines' sovereignty over the undersea region, following the sighting of Chinese survey vessels.[210] He also announced plans to rename the Benham Rise to the Philippine Ridge.[211] On April 12, Duterte canceled his plan to visit the Thitu (Pag-asa) Island, citing goodwill and friendship with China.[212] On April 21, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the allocation of ₱1.6 billion to develop the Thitu (Pag-asa) Island, despite rejection from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[213] The development of the island is expected to include the construction of a marine research center, beaching facilities, a radio station, an ice plant, and a power station, as well as the improvement of the Rancudo airstrip runway.[214] On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed an executive order formally renaming the Benham Rise to the Philippine Rise.[215]

In February 2018, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published aerial surveillance photos of Chinese military fortifications in the South China Sea which showed runways, hangars, control towers, helipads, radomes and multi-storey buildings on reefs across the region, described by the newspaper as "island fortresses". The photos, which were mostly taken in late 2017, were authenticated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which described them as "the most complete, detailed batch of aerial pics available", and stated that the "photos show China is nearly done with its militarization of South China Sea". Duterte's spokesman told reporters: "[The region has] long been militarized. And the question is, what can we do?" - which led to accusations of dereliction of his "sacred core duty" of defending Philippine territory.[216]

United States

Duterte with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, July 26, 2016

On September 12, 2016, Duterte said that he is "not a fan of the Americans" and that he wants to "reorient" foreign policy with the United States. He requested that U.S. forces in Mindanao should leave the Philippines, specifically those who are part of the Operation Enduring Freedom, saying that it would "inflame the situation with the Abu Sayyaf".[217][218] Duterte said on September 13 that he does not plan to cut ties with the United States, but wants to reiterate the administration's pursuit of an "independent foreign policy" in accordance with the Constitution; the administration will continue to honor mutual agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.[219] On September 20, Duterte said: "I never said get out of the Philippines, for after all, we need them there in the China Sea. We don't have armaments."[220][221]

On September 27, Duterte vowed not to allow the U.S. government to interfere with the policies of his administration. He criticized the U.S. government for "lecturing" his administration on human rights amidst their campaign on illegal drugs and said that he will "cross the Rubicon with the U.S." Duterte added that he plans to forge "new alliances" with China and Russia in trade and commerce.[222] U.S. Department of State deputy spokesperson Mark Toner responded to Duterte's criticisms by saying that the Philippine–U.S. relations could still remain "strong and unabated" despite Duterte's criticisms.[223] The following day, while addressing the Filipino community in Hanoi, Duterte said that the Balikatan military exercises and the joint naval patrols in the South China Sea between the Philippines and the U.S. in October would be "its last" in order to avoid provoking conflict with China.[224][225]

Duterte with then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, August 7, 2017

On October 5, Duterte accused the U.S. of refusing to sell armaments to the Philippines and said that he would rather purchase armaments from China and Russia.[226] In an attempt to repair relations with the U.S., Duterte's Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said Duterte was "misinformed" about the U.S. alliance: "Maybe, the defense ministry and the armed forces were remiss in providing him the correct information."[227]

On October 6, Duterte's then-Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. denounced the idea of the Philippines being regarded as a "little brown brother" by the U.S.[228] Yasay said that the Philippines had been "failed" by the U.S.[229][230]

On October 20, while on a trip to Beijing, Duterte declared a "separation" from the United States which he stated had lost militarily, socially, and economically, and emphasized a realignment of the Philippines to move closer to China.[231] During a press conference after arriving from Beijing, Duterte clarified that what he meant by "separation" was a "separation of a foreign policy" and not a severance of diplomatic ties, saying that it would not be feasible to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. due to the large number of Filipino Americans.[232] U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby responded by saying: "We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S.; it's not clear what that means and all its ramifications."[233] On October 23, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel traveled to Manila to seek clarification and explanation for Duterte's comments with Philippine officials, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.[234][235]

Duterte with U.S. President Donald Trump in Manila, November 13, 2017

On November 7, Secretary Lorenzana clarified that the joint Balikatan exercises will continue along with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training amphibious landing exercises between the Philippine Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy would be discontinued. He specified that bilateral drills on counter-terrorism, humanitarian response, special operations, engineering projects, and civic action will remain, all of which have been approved by Duterte.[236]

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar offered "warm congratulations" to Donald Trump on his election victory. He said that Duterte "look[ed] forward to working with the incoming administration for enhanced Philippines–US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law".[237] While in Kuala Lumpur, Duterte personally congratulated Trump by greeting him "Mabuhay!" and expressed hope that the Trump administration would honor obligations and treaties signed between the Philippines and the U.S.[238] On December 2, Duterte called then-President-elect Trump to personally congratulate him once more and invited him to visit the Philippines for the Twelfth East Asia Summit in 2017, while Trump invited Duterte to visit him in New York City and Washington, D.C. after the former's inauguration.[239] On April 29, 2017, President Trump called Duterte to inform him of his planned visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit. Trump also extended an invitation to Duterte to visit him at the White House.[240] During their call, Duterte urged Trump to show restraint in dealing with North Korea over their nuclear weapons program, warning him that the region could suffer "immensely".[241] Trump also praised Duterte's drug war during the call, telling him "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem."[242][243]


Duterte joins other ASEAN heads of states, holding hands as a symbol of unity in Vientiane, Laos, September 7, 2016.

Duterte has placed great importance on the Philippines' diplomatic relations with its ASEAN neighbors. Following tradition, his first trips outside the country were to Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and Singapore.[244]

In 2017 the Philippines was chair and host to the ASEAN summits, a series of diplomatic conferences centering on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The culminating event was held in Manila on November 10–14 (31st summit). It was attended by ten ASEAN leaders.[245]

Economic policy

Duterte speaking at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 11, 2017

Early in his term, Duterte's expletive-laden outbursts triggered the biggest exodus from stocks in a year and made the peso Asia's worst performer in September 2016. The Philippine currency was at a seven-year low and rounding out its worst month since May 2010. In the same month, the Philippine peso completed its biggest monthly decline since October 2000 amid the biggest outflow from the nation's stocks in a year.[246] According to the Philippines' Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the peso's slump this year is "mainly due to a deteriorating trade outlook because of rising imports of capital goods, which is normal for a country that is growing very fast".[247] Currency strategists have, however, "predicted a rebound once investors see beyond Duterte's words".[248]

After 100 days in office, former president Ramos, a political ally-mentor of Duterte, said that "Duterte has been a huge disappointment and letdown" and "the government was losing badly by prioritizing a war on drugs at the expense of issues like poverty, living costs, foreign investment, and jobs".[249][250] Based on subsequent surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations, optimism in the economic prospects under the Duterte administration remains "excellent" with more Filipinos believing that the quality of their lives will improve in the next 12 months.[251] This is supported by polls conducted by Pulse Asia one year after Duterte took office, wherein approval (82%) and trust (81%) ratings for Duterte still remain very high.[252]

Duterte's verbal attacks especially to the US and EU are viewed by many Filipinos as a threat to their jobs especially those working for foreign companies.[253] Mark Williams, chief of Asia economist at Capital Economics, said, "Certainly, investors are worried by some of the things he's saying, he's really unnerved people".[254] The Philippine government, however, expects that employment, especially in BPO industries, will continue to keep on rising.[255] Despite Duterte's bluster and the messy local politics however, the long-term view for the Philippine economy looks good and has even pessimists conceding that gross domestic product should grow close to 7% over the next three to five years. "Twin catalysts of infrastructure spending and tax reform will drive the market over the next two years", Dante Tinga, head of research at BDO Nomura in Manila, tells Barron's. "There's an investment boom under way, which I believe will help in rerating the market over the next 12 months."[256]

In December, government data revealed that the Philippines' output of nickel ore fell 16 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, after the country, which is the world's top supplier of the metal, suspended some mines in a clampdown on environmental violations. Production dropped to 19.8 million tonnes in the nine months to September from 25.97 million tonnes a year ago, according to the data.[257] According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the "Philippine economy is delivering the performance we anticipated, notwithstanding the political noise and a significant terrorist event in Mindanao". Dominguez gave the assessment during the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.[258]

Presidential immunity

On November 7, 2016, Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte's chief government critic, filed a Supreme Court writ of habeas data against Duterte, testing the doctrine of presidential immunity, stating, "The verbal attacks on petitioner's womanhood and threats on her person are not covered by presidential immunity from suit because they are not the official act of a President." The 20-page writ asked, "Can a sitting President wage a personal vendetta against petitioner and use the resources of his powerful office to crucify her as a woman, a human being, and a duly elected senator in violation of her right to privacy in life, liberty and security?"[259] De Lima's counsel, De La Salle University College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno, said "Immunity cannot be used to block this case. There is a blatant violation of the magna carta for women, code of conduct for public officials. We hope the Supreme Court will listen to the plea of Senator de Lima and give consideration to this petition because we believe it is of groundbreaking importance".[260]

Duterte had repeatedly criticized De Lima for an alleged adulterous affair with her driver and her alleged "propensity for sex".[260] He said in August 2016 that she was an "immoral woman" who had no right to criticize the extrajudicial killings because she had "a very sordid personal and official life".[261] She was subsequently removed from her position chairing a Senate committee investigating the killings, and was then forced to leave her home out of fear for her safety.[262] The writ cited several cases of Duterte admitting that he wanted to drive her to suicide. De Lima demanded to know which foreign country had assisted Duterte in his surveillance of her private conversations, as he had claimed, and how it was carried out.[263][264]

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that "Senator Leila de Lima is apparently playing the gender card as a shield against mounting evidence of her ties with high-profile drug lords and the proliferation of drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison." Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that "the president is immune from suit but even if he is not, the petition has no basis in fact nor in law".[265]

Duterte had already made light of the fact of his capacity to give presidential pardons, even with presidential immunity, when he vowed to pardon himself the moment he became president during the 2016 campaign:[266][267]

Public image

Rodrigo Duterte developed a reputation as a "protector" and "savior" in his hometown of Davao City as mayor of the city for more than two decades. This is despite reports of death squads in the city.[268]

Rodrigo Duterte has been described as a populist, with his foul-mouthed remarks against the country's elite which positioned him as a "man of the people" as critical to his victory in the 2016 presidential election.[269] He has also been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump for his rhetorical style.[268]


Duterte meets with the Filipino community in Jakarta, September 9, 2016.

Ardent supporters of Duterte have been labeled as "Diehard Duterte Supporters", alternatively known as "Digong Duterte Supporters", which shares the acronym with the Davao Death Squad (DDS).[270] This label has been applied to the 16 million people who voted for him in the 2016 presidential election.[271]

Several other Facebook groups with the acronym "DDS" supported Duterte as early as 2011. Among these groups is the Duterte Defense Squad, which was created on July 5, 2011. Other examples include Digong Duterte Supporters-Registered Nurses Group, Duterte's Destiny is to Serve the Country, Digong Duterte Swerte (lit. Digong Duterte is (Good) Luck), and Davsur Duterte Supporters. In 2015, members of the various groups urged Duterte to run for president.[272]

Controversy and criticism

Human rights concerns

Protest against the Philippine war on drugs in front of the Philippine Consulate General in New York City, October 2016

In October 2016, the French newspaper Libération depicted Duterte as a "serial killer president", pertaining to the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines. The newspaper report drew condemnation from the Filipino community in France. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a radio interview that the newspaper's presentation of Duterte as a serial killer was "very unfair" and "irresponsible" while DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno stated that the description was "too much" and noted the lack of understanding over the administration's war on drugs.[273][274][275]

Then Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited a Social Weather Stations survey showing a “record-low” of 6.1 percent of Filipinos who said they had fallen victim to common crimes. “We reiterate that the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is conducted through legitimate police enforcement operations, and deaths arising from these are due to the drug personalities’ violent resistance to lawful apprehensions,” he said.[276]

As 2016 concluded, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) nominated Duterte as a runner-up in their 2016 Person of the Year Award that "recognizes the individual who has done the most in the world to advance organized criminal activity and corruption".[277] The OCCRP panel members who recognized Duterte noted his use of "death squads to slaughter drug dealers (and users)", with some panelists comparing his use of vigilante groups to those of the 2016 Person of the Year Award winner, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.[277] In 2017, the investigative journalists' network OCCRP has named Duterte Person of the Year in Organized Crime.[278]

Duterte has consistently voiced his grudge against the Commission of Human Rights, much to the dismay of various human rights groups and advocates.[279] He has also threatened the abolition of the constitutionally supported institution.[280][281] Under Duterte's first year, budget spending for the Commission of Human Rights was cut by 72.9 million;[282] Duterte's allies in the congress even insisted that the said agency deserves zero budget.[283] The 2018 budget for the CHR was set to ₱1,000 (US$20) by Duterte's allies in the congress, which was lauded by Duterte stating that they had it coming due to CHR's chairman Chito Gascon being a "yellow" (Liberal Party affiliated) and speaking out against Duterte's War on Drugs.[284] Not contented with his insults against Gascon, Duterte has also accused Gascon of being a pedophile for caring so much about the deaths of minors. Duterte also stated that the CHR aligned themselves with his political enemies, stating that there are crimes against children happening everyday but the CHR only focuses on the crimes of his administration.[285] The CHR budget was restored by the Senate after thousands of Filipinos have expressed their outrage and dismay against Duterte and his allies on social media and on the streets.[286]

On August 16, 2017, Duterte remarked that he would have the Commission on Human Rights investigated and has threatened them with violence if they are found to be "obstructing justice".[287]

Many have expressed criticism of Duterte's stance against Human Rights,[288][289][290] but Duterte believes that the number of deaths due to extrajudicial killings and summary executions are a measure of his success in his war against drugs.[291][292][293]

Duterte firmly believes that killing criminals is not a crime against humanity, reasoning that criminals have "no humanity".[294]

Following the death of Kian de los Santos, a minor allegedly executed by policemen under the admin's War on Drugs, United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard implored Duterte to make de los Santos' death the last.[295] Duterte responded by severely cursing Callamard and taunting her to come to the Philippines.[296]

Callamard had previously opined that de los Santos was murdered by the police after a CCTV recording revealed footage of policemen dragging an unarmed boy against his will, contrary to the local police officers' claims that the boy fought back with a gun.[297] Callamard tweeted her statement in response to Duterte's blasé speech admitting that Kian was indeed murdered, a week after Kian's death.[298] In a previous speech, Duterte told policemen to shoot suspects who resist arrest, and even joked that "if they don't resist, make them fight back".[299]

During his diatribe against Callamard, Duterte had accused France of having a policy of "guilty until proven innocent", an erroneous assumption which the French embassy corrected later on.[300] France is among the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) members which expressed serious concerns over the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Representatives from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Peru recommended to the Philippines to allow Callamard to conduct an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with President Duterte's war on drugs. The concerned member states include Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Vatican City, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.[301] Duterte stated that there is no guarantee that Kian would be the last. He promised that there will be more people killed for the sake of ending the "drugs problem".[302] Barely a month after Kian's death, it was followed by the deaths of Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman who were all minors found to be murdered by gunshot wounds.[303] Duterte has stated that it was not state policy to kill drug suspects. He also expressed ridicule at allegations that they were killed similarly to Kian. Duterte rebuked the media, saying "how could he kill them, when one of them is even a relative" and has also claimed that the slaying of minors is done in an attempt to discredit the PNP and undermine his war on drugs.[304]

Callamard stated that her official visit to the Philippines to engage with Duterte is not possible due to the pre-conditions imposed by Duterte's admin to force her to engage in a public debate.[305] Callamard had repeatedly refused Duterte's taunts for her to engage him in "public debate", saying that her visit should not be for "entertainment".[306]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the first year of Duterte in office a human rights calamity. HRW estimates that there has been 7,000 extrajudicial killings from the day Duterte first took office to January 2017.[307] The Duterte administration suspended the drugs war in February 2017 in an effort to cleanse the police ranks of supposed corruption, also halting the disclosure of figures on deaths related to drug arrests and raids.[308] In March 2017, HRW released a special investigation and report on the state of police related shooting, titled "License To Kill".[309] The New York Times had also released a video documentary "When A President Says I'll Kill You", which depicts Duterte's war on drugs through a local photographer's eyes.[310] On August 17, 2017, HRW called Duterte a threat to the human rights community after he made threats against human rights activists.[311] By August 2017, human rights groups and activists had claimed that more than 13,000 people had been killed in extrajudicial killings including those they believed the government had executed such as Kian de los Santos, contrary to government figures which estimated it to be only around 3,000.[312]

On May 8, 2017, Jude Sabio, the lawyer of Edgar Matobato, filed a case against Duterte in the International Criminal Court (ICC).[313] An online petition for the ICC to investigate Duterte for advocating shoot-to-kill orders had been filed in only three months after he started to serve as president, following the drastic increase in vigilante killings and Duterte's advocacy to kill drug pushers.[314]

In January 2020, the International Criminal Court confirmed that an investigation into Duterte's involvement with the death squads was ongoing, despite the Philippines having withdrawn from the ICC two years prior, because it continued to have jurisdiction over crimes committed when the country was still a member. Duterte had withdrawn the country just one month after the opening of the investigation.[315]

Following the UN's 72nd General Assembly, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who represented Duterte who did not attend it, states that it scored a big victory claiming that the UNHRC "overwhelmingly adopted Manila's human rights report card".[316] The CHR however states that these claims are nothing more than "doublespeak" that serves to deliberately mislead people to think that the Duterte admin is serious about human rights. The Philippines did not accept 154 recommendations of other UN member-states, including a condition-less visit for UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and a thorough investigation of the deaths in connection with the war on drugs.[317]

Homophobic comments

In May 2019, implying that being gay is a disease, Duterte stated that he used to be gay, but was "cured" of his homosexuality when he met his ex-wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman. The president claimed someone told him the way Antonio Trillanes - a critic of the Duterte administration - moved suggested he was a homosexual, saying ‘I said: “Are you sure?” They said: “You ask any gay person who sees Trillanes move, they’ll say he’s gay.” then adding "Good thing Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself. When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again.” adding "Duterte is gay. So I am gay, I don't care if I'm gay or not".[318][319][320]

Duterte has also often used terms like "bakla" and "bayot," words that mean gay, as insults to his political enemies. During his presidential campaign, Duterte had initially appeared to have liberal views on homosexuality, saying the Bible should have recognized gays. But as president, Duterte has been inconsistent on his views on same-sex marriage, In March 2017, Duterte said marriage was only for a man and woman, under Philippine law. But by the end of the year, Duterte told an LGBT gathering that he thinks the law can be changed to allow same-sex marriage.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 reported that 73% of Filipinos believe that homosexuality should be accepted, making the Philippines the second most gay-friendly country in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2012, when Duterte was still vice mayor of Davao City, he encouraged a local council to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting the LGBT community. Making Davao City one of the regions in the Philippines to do so. In 2015, he stated on national television that he opposes the "bullying" of gay people.He further stated that same-sex marriage is "good" because "everyone deserves to be happy"

Although Duterte wavered his support in early of 2017, his support towards the LGBT community strengthened when he clarified that he has nothing against same sex-marriage, but the law needs to be amended.[321]

In 2018, Duterte stated his opposition to same-sex marriage but favored same-sex civil union.[322]

In January 2019, Duterte attacked the country's Catholic bishops and claimed most of them were gay after the church criticised his war on drugs. Saying “Only I can say bishops are sons of bitches, damn you … Most of them are gay. They should come out in the open, cancel celibacy and allow them to have boyfriends.”[323]

Rape comments

Duterte had made another remark regarding rape when he rallied the troops during the war against the Maute in Marawi, saying that he would absolved them if they happen to rape people.[324][325][326][327] Malacañang had defended Duterte's remarks, stating that it should not be taken seriously because it is due to heightened bravado.[328] Several public officials expressed their distaste for the remark,[329] including a Bangsamoro committee member who quit the council out of sheer disgust.[330] Women's rights groups protested Duterte's statements claiming that rape is a heinous crime and should not be joked about, even alleging that the Maranao refugees in the evacuation camps were being threatened with rape by soldiers who were encouraged by the President.[331][332]

Chelsea Clinton expressed her disapproval of Duterte through social media,[333] to which Duterte defended himself saying that he was being "sarcastic" when he made the remark.[334] Displeased with her comments, Duterte launched a verbal tirade against Clinton by bringing up the Lewinsky scandal, in which her father, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was involved.[335]

During the second time that Duterte visited Marawi, he also made a remark on using "starlets", along with a free trip to Hong Kong, to reward the soldiers for their valor, much to the hoots and the laughter of the soldiers.[336]

In August 2018, Duterte's home province of Davao had the highest number of reported rape cases.[337] Duterte responded by joking that Davao has "many beautiful women".[338] which explains the high rate. His comments were defended by his daughter, Sara Duterte, who asked his critics: "What have you done for Davao?".[339] Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also defended his comments, saying that "it's more liberal in the South".[340]

International stage

Duterte meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in April 2017

Duterte's records on human rights and his long history of comments considered to be offensive, provocative, threatening, etc. have received sharp international criticism. He has been accused by his critics in the media of having a "dirty mouth".[341] He had, however, promised to behave in a "prim and proper" manner on the national and international stage once he was to be inaugurated as President, to the point that, "almost, I would become holy."[342]

In July 2016, Duterte accused the United Kingdom and the United States of importing terrorism to the Middle East through its interventions, saying: "The U.S. destroyed the Middle East. ... Great Britain and the U.S. will not admit that they forced their way to Iraq and killed Saddam. Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria."[343][344]

In August 2016, Duterte was criticized after he made a homophobic comment (using a Tagalog language slur) about the US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, stating "As you know, I'm fighting with (US Secretary of State John Kerry's) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off." Duterte added: "He [Goldberg] meddled during the elections, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that." The U.S. State Department summoned the Filipino chargé d'affaires Patrick Chuasoto to discuss Duterte's comments.[345] Duterte refused to apologize.[346]

In the same month, United Nations human rights experts called for an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers, about 900 of whom had been executed since the May election, accusing Duterte of "incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law".[347] In response, Duterte threatened to leave the UN and form a separate organization with China and African nations. He announced in a news conference on August 19: "You now, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give you 10 [about you]. I tell you, you are an inutil ("useless" in Filipino street language, from the French inutile which means the same thing). Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killing [in Syria and Iraq]." Asked about possible repercussions, he stated: "What is ... repercussions? I don't give a shit to them." He said that the UN had acted against protocol: "You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country."[32]

At the 2016 ASEAN Summit, Duterte and U.S. President Barack Obama planned to meet with each other.[348] The United States said that President Obama planned to discuss the 2,400 Filipinos who died during Duterte's war on drugs.[348] Duterte criticized the planned topic of the meeting, saying, "I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people. You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum."[349] The vulgar insult prompted the White House to cancel the meeting instead.[350] During a press conference at the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit in China, President Obama discussed the cancellation of the meeting, saying: "I always want to make sure that if I'm having a meeting, that it's actually productive and we're getting something done."[351] Obama and Duterte later met informally.[352]

On September 30, 2016, Duterte appeared to compare the killings of suspected drug addicts to the Holocaust saying: "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. ... I'd be happy to slaughter them."[353] His remarks drew international outrage particularly from the Jewish Communities. World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder condemned the statement,[354] as did the Anti-Defamation League.[355] Israeli Foreign Ministry also condemned his remarks while the German government slammed Duterte's comments as unacceptable, and called in the Philippine ambassador to the Foreign Ministry over the matter.[356][357][358] On October 2 he apologized to the Jewish community.[359] When listening to the full conference,[360][361] he was in fact referring to the accusation of genocide by lawyers of the European Union who wanted him to face the International Court of Justice and, as Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella explained, that it "was an oblique reflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects".[362]

Duterte and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018

In September 2016, Duterte said that the United States has not even apologized to the Philippines for its atrocities during the Philippine–American War.[217] In October 2016, Duterte continued his tirade against the US and the European Union saying in Tagalog that "Mr. Obama, you can go to hell. EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is already full. Why should I be afraid of you?"[363]

Duterte's constant cursing had local officials worried that the Philippines would lose foreign aid from the United States and European Union. He responded that “If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it. We have a problem here trying to preserve our society" he said. The President continued that he would “be the first to go hungry. I will be the first one to die of hunger". Local actress Agot Isidro responded in Tagalog "First of all, no one's trying to fight you. As a matter of fact, you're the one who's picking a fight. Secondly, the country where you are elected as President by 16 million out of 100+ million is Third World. You talk as if the Philippines is a superpower. Excuse me, we don't want to go hungry. If you want, you do it yourself. Leave us out of it. So many people have nothing to eat, and yet you'll starve us even further".[364] Her sentiments were echoed by Senator Panfilo Lacson adding that "if the economy worsen, the entire Filipino people will be affected, they will go hungry as well".[365]

Former president Fidel Ramos on his resignation as special envoy to China stated that he did not like Duterte's treatment of US president Barack Obama and lambasted the administration on its refusal to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was later agreed by Duterte.[366][367][368]

During the 2016 APEC Summit in Peru, President Duterte skipped two major events due to jet lag. In a press conference at his office in Makati, former president Ramos hit the absence of Duterte at the APEC gala dinner and the shoot for the leaders’ traditional family photo. Ramos said that while Duterte and his Cabinet may have thought that the two events are negligible, it could have disappointed the host country. “Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski must be very disappointed,” Ramos said. He said the gala night could have been an opportunity for Duterte to exchange ideas with world leaders and sickness is an unacceptable alibi to skip such an important gathering.[369]

In January 2018, Duterte revealed that he advised Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi to 'ignore human rights criticisms on Rohingya issue'.[370] In April 5, 2018, Duterte recognized the existence of a genocide against the Rohingya people.[371]

Catholic Church

President Duterte talks with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace, July 19, 2016

Duterte has referred to the Catholic Church as "the most hypocritical institution", after the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas released a pastoral letter indirectly referring to Duterte as a "morally reprehensible" candidate who has shown "scant regard" for the rights of others and the teachings of the Church, urging Filipino Catholics to not vote for him.[372][373][374] Unlike many prominent politicians,[375][376][377] Duterte has spoken in favor of birth control, LGBT rights, and reimposition of the death penalty which was abolished by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a devout Catholic, during her second term in 2006.[378][379][380] Upon being elected, Duterte called local bishops "sons of whores", and said he would expand family planning, which the Church had been opposed to. The Catholic Church in the Philippines had lost much of its popularity and political power since being active in overthrowing the Marcos regime in 1986. Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Duterte's attacks on the Church were likely to prove popular.[381]

Duterte was accused of having referred to Pope Francis as a "son of a whore"[381] during the pontiff's visit to the Philippines in January 2015 because it caused traffic congestion, though he immediately apologized publicly, explaining he wasn't using these words in regards to the Pope but rather a rant to the government's way of preparing the Pope's visit.[382] On December 4, 2015, Duterte, along with his executive assistant Bong Go, visited and talked with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Bishop George Rimando, together with Monsignor Paul Cuison to get lectured on Christian Values. Duterte committed to lessen his profanity in public gatherings and even assured that he would donate ₱1,000 to Caritas Davao every time he swears in public. He also stated that he will be planning to visit the Vatican at a later time.[383] Duterte however canceled his planned trip and instead wrote a letter to Pope Francis dated January 21, 2016. During a campaign rally in Ubay, Bohol, Duterte's camp showed the letter coming from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, signed by Giovanni Angelo Becciu dated February 24, stating that Pope Francis had received his letter and that the Vatican appreciated Duterte's apology after allegedly cursing Pope Francis in public.[384] In January 2017, Duterte wrote a personal letter to Pope Francis, expressing his gratitude during his papal visit in the Philippines and his "highest esteem and respect" for the pontiff.[385]

On August 28, 2016, Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, acknowledged that people were right to be "worried about extrajudicial killing". He said that it was equivalent to abortion, "unfair labor practices", "wasting food" and selling illegal drugs, explaining that these are all "form[s] of murder".[386] On August 31, in a speech before a gathering of a religious group in Davao City, Duterte said that he once considered being a priest: "It's good I didn't join the priesthood," said Duterte, "or else now I would be a homosexual."[387] Duterte's officials filed a sedition case against four bishops and three priests critical of him.[388] He also vowed to continue to attack the Catholic Church.[389]

Views on media killings

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 174 assassinations recorded since the Marcos dictatorship. In a press conference on May 31, 2016, Duterte said that "Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won't be killed if you don't do anything wrong." He appeared to announce his support for killing "corrupt" journalists: "Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you're a son of a bitch".

At the press conference where Duterte announced this, he wolf-whistled at a female journalist (Mariz Umali of GMA News) when she asked a question.[390] At a news conference on the following day he defended his comments and refused to apologise, telling reporters, "I cannot protect you". He has been criticized by foreign and domestic media organizations regarding his comments.[391] The Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists said: "What he has done with these irresponsible comments is give security officials the right to kill for acts that they consider defamation. This is one of the most outrageous statements we have ever heard from a president in the Philippines."[392]

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom, stated in October 2016 that major newspapers and television stations have not critically analyzed Duterte's policies, because "they fear him. They basically are afraid to be singled out."[393]

Despite his rocky relationship with the media, Duterte's first Administrative Order was the creation of a Presidential Task Force on Media Security, whose main task is conduct an inventory of cases of media killings, including unsolved cases, cases under investigation, cases under preliminary investigation, cases under trial, and cases under appeal, and "to put an end to all forms of political violence and abuses of powers against members of the fourth estate."[394][395] In the first year that Duterte took office, four journalists were killed.[396]

Personal killings

Duterte has repeatedly admitted to killing three people while he was the Mayor of Davao. In December 2015, Duterte recounted shooting three gunmen dead only months into his first mayoral term in 1988 after they had kidnapped and raped a Chinese girl. He justified his actions, saying "they were committing a crime in my presence and I was the person in authority under the law".[23] In an interview with BBC on December 16, 2016, he said: "I killed about three of them, because there were three of them. I don't know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies. It happened, and I said, I cannot lie about it".[24]

On December 14, 2016, Duterte gave a speech to business leaders in the presidential palace where he spoke of personally killing suspected criminals as Mayor of Davao to set an example for local police. He said, "In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys that if I can do it why can't you. And I'd go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also."[24][397][398]

War on Drugs

Duterte shows a diagram of drug syndicates at a press conference on July 7, 2016.

Despite constant criticism of his war on drugs, Duterte had staunchly defended his administration efforts at getting rid of "filth" from the streets.[399][400] Duterte had even called former Colombian president César Gaviria an "idiot".[401] This was after he read Gaviria's opinion that was published in The New York Times. Gaviria claimed that Duterte is simply repeating his mistakes during his term as president when he used heavy-handed means in Colombia's war against drugs.[402] Duterte said Gaviria was “lecturing” and the Philippine case was different to Colombia.[401]

Various international publications and media companies had claimed that Duterte's "War on Drugs" was a war against the poor due to the abject poverty of those arrested or killed.[403][404] In 2017, the investigative journalists' network OCCRP reported that "Duterte has overseen the killing of more than 7,000 and possibly as many as 12,000. The statistics are hard to pin down because Duterte’s National Police suppress all critical reports. And police are spared from any accountability or legal consequences for a campaign that has left bodies in the streets."[278]

On August 18, 2017, Duterte admitted his mistake in trying to end drugs in six months, and it would take him his entire term to end it.[405] Duterte stated that he had no idea when he took office that Philippines had become a failed state, having been degenerated into a narco-state. He blamed the Bureau of Customs whose people he thought were loyal to him. He also blamed the governors, mayors and policemen who were involved in drugs and threatened to have them killed.[406] The Duterte administration had been using a "narco-list" which Duterte shares with the mass media to warn public officials allegedly involved in the drug trade to surrender.[407] Duterte claims to have received several death threats because of his campaign against drugs. Unfazed by these, Duterte stated that he welcomes all attempts to kill him.[408]

Several senators have implored the public to express more outrage at Duterte's War on Drugs.[409][410]

Personal life

Duterte is known for being an avid fan of big bikes, but detests luxury cars. He once owned a second-hand Harley-Davidson and a Yamaha Virago. He was once a habitual smoker, but he eventually quit after a doctor's suggestion due to health concerns. Duterte is an avid reader of Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon novels.[411] Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public, especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in profusely using profanity live on-screen on numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand to abstain.[412][413]

Duterte has his own local show in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa ("From the Masses, For the Masses"), which is aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao. He is also a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University.[414]

Aside from his native Cebuano, Duterte is also fluent in Filipino and English.[415]

Family and ancestry

Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica

Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight attendant of Jewish and German American descent from Davao City. She traces her roots in Tuburan, Cebu. They together have three children (from eldest to youngest): Paolo ("Pulong"), Sara ("Inday Sara") and Sebastian ("Baste"). Paolo and Sara entered politics while Baste, with no interest in politics, concentrated on business and surfing but eventually ran and won as Davao City Vice Mayor in 2019.[412] In 2012, Duterte made a notorious remark in a media interview regarding an incident where Paolo's name was allegedly linked to a carnapping (portmanteau of car and kidnapping) syndicate led by Ryan Yu. Duterte is infamously quoted as having said: "Kill my son Paolo if he is involved in crime." Paolo was never charged for lack of evidence and eventually won the vice mayoralty of Davao City vice in 2013.[416] Duterte's father, Vicente, died in 1968 while his mother, Soledad, died on February 4, 2012, at the age of 95.[417] Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015.[418]

Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering while married to Zimmerman and cited it as the reason for his failed first marriage when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never appeared in court and did not contest Zimmerman's petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, "Yes, [Rodrigo] is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it." In 2001, Zimmerman eventually ran for a seat on the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage was declared null and void. Zimmerman eventually joined the campaign trail for Duterte's presidential candidacy in early 2016 called Byaheng Du30 in which she would travel by bus to major cities together with her daughter Sara and a number of delegates.[418]

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica ("Kitty"). Duterte has eight grandchildren, half of whom are Muslims and the other half Christian,[419][420] and one great grandchild.[421]

On his paternal side, he shares familial ties with some of the prominent families of the Visayas, particularly the Almendrases and Duranos of Danao, Cebu.[a]


Despite being raised as a communicant of the Catholic Church, on January 19, 2016, while meeting with businessmen in Binondo, Manila, Duterte clarified that he has not attended Mass for quite some time already since he deemed it incompatible with his mayoral responsibilities: "If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests," said Duterte, "I would not be able to do anything as a mayor." He then clarified that he still believed in God, but not in religion.[423] On June 26, 2016, Duterte said he's Christian, but also said that he believes "in one God Allah".[373][424] Later, he challenged the evidence for the existence of God, while paradoxically claiming he is neither an atheist nor an agnostic.[425][426] He has also called God “stupid”.[427]

In July 2018, he called himself "spiritual" and expressed his belief in "one Supreme God", but stated he "can't accept" Catholicism or organised religion.[428] Then, later in 2019, he was quoted as saying: "a part of me which is Islam".[429]


Duterte had worn an Air Purifier onto his lungs to help the air from breath in despite on doings with Bong Go last October 16, 2019.

Duterte has Buerger's disease, an inflammation of blood vessels, mostly in the limbs, and Barrett's esophagus, wherein esophageal cells are gradually replaced by gastrointestinal cells. He has denied rumors of throat cancer.[430]

Duterte admitted in December 2016 that he had been a user of the addictive opioid drug Fentanyl. He said that a doctor prescribed the drug to alleviate back pain and headaches, but that he would take more than he was prescribed.[431] Fentanyl is described by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse as "a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent".[432] Duterte later denied that he was a drug addict, and a spokesman stated that he was not affected by side-effects of the drug, which include confusion, anxiety and hallucinations.[433]

Duterte has boasted about his use of Viagra: "When I was young, I could do overnight, which is more expensive. When I got old, I could do short time only because I have such a short time left. After one erection, that's it. No more. Without Viagra, it's even more difficult."[434][435]

A psychological assessment of Duterte was commissioned by Dr. Natividad Dayan during Duterte's marriage annulment to Elizabeth Zimmerman in July 1998. The result was that Duterte (then Davao City mayor) was found to have "antisocial narcissistic personality disorder", exemplified by "gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness", and a "grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviours". He had a "pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings", and was "unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions." He also had "poor capacity for objective judgement", failing to "see things in the light of facts".[436]

According to a document about Neuropsychological Evaluation, authored by five (5) doctorate degree holders of the Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology Division at the United States, a neuropsychological assessment/ evaluation is a “snapshot” of an individual at a current point in time.[437]

In a speech to the Filipino community in Russia, Duterte admitted that he has myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, which makes his eye droop.[438][439] Thus, this means that the President's psychological assessment 21 years ago may not necessarily be representative or indicative of the President's current behavior and psychological state.

Political views

Duterte described himself as left-leaning during his campaign and presidency, but has stressed that he was not a communist, but rather a socialist.[440][441][442]

He was once a member of the leftist Kabataang Makabayan during the 1970s.[443] He himself is a student of prominent Philippine leftist figure and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison.[444][445][446] In his presidency, he showed support for the left in a series of speeches: on one occasion he proclaimed himself the first "leftist President"; calling the Communist Party of the Philippines "revolutionary government"; ordered his officials to file petitions in court for the release of about twenty jailed communist leaders, which led to their subsequent releases; and appointed several cabinet members from the Philippine left.[447]

Honours and awards

Honour of the Philippines

Foreign honours

See also


  1. ^ Brothers Facundo & Severo Duterte both married women from Danao; Severo's daughter Beatriz married post-War business magnate Ramon M. Durano, Sr. Their descendants constitute the modern-day political family of the Duranos of Danao, Cebu. Ramon M. Durano, Sr.'s sister Elisea married Paulo Almendras, and their descendants constitute the modern-day Almendrases of Cebu. One of their descendants, Jose Rene Almendras is a former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (acting).[422]


  1. ^ Punzalan, Jamaine (May 3, 2016). "Duterte eyeing revolutionary gov't with Joma Sison: Trillanes". News. ABS-CBN News. Manila. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  2. ^ Mendez, Christina (July 7, 2016). "Rody chooses Bahay Pangarap". The Philippine Star. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  3. ^ Mendez, Christina (July 12, 2016). "Duterte moves into 'Bahay ng Pagbabago'". The Philippine Star. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
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