Duterte's Growing Overseas Troubles
The world increasingly sees an outlaw administration
Despite his phenomenal popularity at home, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing growing trouble overseas, with demands for him to stand trial for human rights abuses in the Hague, with his spiritual adviser making the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted List for sex trafficking, and with 25 US Congress members asking the government to use the Magnitsky Act against five senior Philippine officials – although not the president himself – for “grave human rights violations.”
The US has already issued travel bans against individuals believed involved in the “preventive detention” of Sen. Lila de Lima, who has spent almost Duterte’s entire term in Camp Crame, the military headquarters, on drug charges that are regarded by human rights organizations as trumped up to neutralize the president’s most influential critic. De Lima is the former head of the Philippines’ Human Rights Commission and an opponent of his drug war.
Domestically, Philippine voters have largely ignored the international opprobrium. Duterte’s trust and approval ratings actually rose in the most recent polls on December 6-10, climbing to 65 percent, up by 5 percentage points from a 60 percent approval rating in the third quarter. His trust rating also rose to 55 percent, 2 percentage points higher than his 53 percent in the last quarter despite revelations of scandals involving the transfer of the Malampaya oil block to a crony, allegations of profiteering on the procurement of Covid-19 medical supplies, and the sale of the media license formerly in the hands of the country’s most popular broadcast license to a crony…