Rodrigo Duterte Has a Commanding Lead in the Polls as the Philippines Goes to Vote

The boorish frontrunner—who during campaigning made jokes about rape, his penis and killing his children if they took drugs—is tipped to win It was all grins in Davao City on Monday morning, as voters lined up to cast ballots for the new President of the Philippines, confident that their pugnacious mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, would romp home after building a commanding lead in latest polls... Human-rights groups allege that “death squads” reporting to Duterte stalk criminals across sprawling Davao and conductsummary executions that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. However, Duterte is unapologetic for the tactics he’s used to clean up this city of 1.5 million, once renowned as a lawless hub of communists, Islamic militants and gangsters, but which now has a reputation for thriving security. “If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor,” Duterte told a crimson sea of 200,000 supporters in Manila’s Rizal Park on Saturday. “All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you. I have no patience, I have no middle ground, ether you kill me or I will kill you idiots.”

Why it matters: Duterte is a polarizing figure in the Philippines. His opponents often highlighted Duterte human rights abuses allegations. Meanwhile, his supporters seem to vote him for his strong style of leadership and his promise of order—perhaps a ‘bloody’ one, as he himself said, but order nonetheless. This is another example of why democracy in Southeast Asia is an ongoing dialogue. Time and again, strong leaders would arise in democratic countries in the region and challenge democratic values, often mentioning that the leaderships that democracy has produced are often weak and riddled with corruption.

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