Break muna tayo sa angry posts for a bit of good news from the international front. Despite being vilified in the Philippines by his political opponents and the mostly Manila-based mainstream media, President Rodrigo Duterte has once again reaped the admiration of our Asian neighbors for his no-nonsense style of governance and Filipino-first approach to foreign relations.
In its year-end review for CNN of Asia’s winners and losers, the Japan Times has declared that President Rodrigo Duterte had the Best Year in 2016.
According to the JT article, despite the controversies surrounding his all-out war against the illegal drug trade in the Philippines and the growing threat of narco-politics, Duterte is on track with his plan to “rebalance his nation’s (diplomatic) ties, improve the life of the average Filipino…(and) make the Philippines — a one-time economic and trade powerhouse — great again.”
The recognition comes at the heels of Duterte also being named, the 2016 Person of the Year by the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan magazine.
Below is the full text of the Japan Times report on Duterte.
Best Year: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Not without controversy, Duterte tops our CNN list for “best year” in Asia by winning his nation’s presidency in a landslide last May and subsequently upending, rethinking and reshaping the state of affairs — for good or for bad — at home and abroad.
Since taking office on June 30, the former mayor of Davao City has launched an unsparing, and bloody, war on crime and drugs that has brought mounting human rights criticism and concerns over extrajudicial killings.
The tough-talking leader also has declared a “separation” from the U.S., its long-term ally, and moved to put aside territorial disputes in favor of business deals with China — this, despite an international tribunal ruling in the Philippines’ favor in July over territories in the South China Sea.
In early December, the Social Weather Stations survey firm had Duterte enjoying a 77 percent approval rating as Filipinos continue to put their trust in their controversial president. For now, the Philippine leader’s unconventional moves seem a harbinger of things to come.
This is no pivot to China, but a disruption of the old normal. Duterte ended 2016 seeking to rebalance his nation’s ties, improve the life of the average Filipino and make the Philippines — a one-time economic and trade powerhouse — great again. And for that, Asia’s best year goes to Duterte.