2016 has seen the rise of a presidential candidate who advocates violence, who cracks wise about his penis at inappropriate times, who demonizes his nation’s neighbors to the south, promises to end crime in his country without specific plans, and has an unhealthy way of viewing his children. We are speaking, of course, about Rodrigo Duterte, the current frontrunner and known huckster that may lead the Philippines into the future.
Duterte has been pulling ahead in the polls in a campaign that is eerily reminiscent of that of a certain orange-faced buffoon across the ocean. Running a campaign that promises increased militarization, Duterte thinks that he alone can make deals with China regarding disputes over the Spratly Islands. He has promised to sever ties with the United States and Australia because he doesn’t think they support his nation’s interests properly.
Duterte is also known for running his mouth, making inappropriate comments on the campaign trail. He has said he would murder his children if they took drugs and made jokes about an Australian missionary who was raped and murdered in 1989. He has also bragged about being something of a womanizer, told a women’s rights group to “go to Hell,” and mocked his own daughter openly when she discussed her rape.
But what makes Duterte different from American candidate Donald Trump is that while Trump advocates committing war crimes and violating civil rights, Duterte has actually done so. He is the mayor of Davao City and has a sordid history in government as well. He has been criticized both domestically and internationally for his role in death squads between 1998 and 2008 that are believed to be responsible for the death or disappearance of more than a thousand people, and possibly as many as 1,700.
Duterte isn’t too concerned about those war crimes, however. After all, if he is the president he can just pardon himself for his role in those. And that’s exactly what he is promising to do. Not only that, but he would pardon members of his security forces who took part in the raids. He has pushed for a return to a strongarm dictatorship.
The election is scheduled for May 9. Duterte currently holds a 9 point lead.