PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte joined some of the world’s most brutal world leaders on the cover of TIME magazine’s “Rise of the Strongman” May issue.
The controversial Philippine president, who received international criticism for his brutal crackdown on narcotics, was joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, and Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban.
The cover did, pointedly, not include US President Donald Trump; a fact that the article’s author Ian Bremmer highlighted on Twitter.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 3, 2018
“In every region of the world, changing times have boosted public demand for more muscular, assertive leadership,” the TIME article reads.
“These tough-talking populists promise to protect ‘us’ from ‘them.’ Depending on who’s talking, ‘them’ can mean the corrupt elite or the grasping poor; foreigners or members of racial, ethnic or religious minorities. Or disloyal politicians, bureaucrats, bankers or judges. Or lying reporters.”
“Out of this divide, a new archetype of leader has emerged. We’re now in the strongman era.”
In the article, Bremmer credits a rising tide of violent street crime with helping Duterte – who he describes as “a former mayor who talked more like a Mob boss than a President” – get elected back in 2016. His promises to wipe out the drug trade with his “own brand of justice” resonated with the public, writes Bremmer.
Philippine police have killed about 4,100 people since Duterte took power in late June 2016 in what the authorities say were shootouts during anti-narcotics operations. Activists say many of the killings were executions, which police deny.
At least other 2,300 drug-related deaths have also occurred, at the hands of what police say are unknown assassins.
Duterte is in good company in the article with a number of leaders he has expressed admiration for. Both Russia’s Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping get a mention.
Xi, whom President Duterte has professed love for, is described as having “used an anticorruption campaign to sideline potential rivals while consolidating power on a historic scale.”
Duterte remains popular in the Philippines despite widespread international criticism. In an April poll, he received a trust rating of “very good”, only slightly down from an “excellent” rating in December.