Duterte unfazed by negative press - GulfToday

Duterte unfazed by negative press

Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte

Manila’s President Rodrigo Duterte seems to be made of a different mould altogether. Not many leaders would personally apologise to passengers who are visibly agitated when their flights are delayed or cancelled. But Duterte did, on Monday, when he made a surprise visit to stranded passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The visit lasted half an hour.

Duterte assured he would come up with a remedy “within a month” to resolve the major problems that had been plaguing the airport that led to rising complaints including inefficiency and apathy among officials.

A lightning alert raised by officials on Sunday night led to at least seven flights being diverted to the Clark International Airport while 54 flights were delayed.

To show his solidarity with the people, he had a snack in one of the food kiosks at the airport.

Duterte has a huge following and enjoys strong support among his countrymen, not just in his nation, but also overseas, including the UAE.

That is why he seems to be unperturbed by reports of human rights violations in the Philippines, which rejected a call for an independent United Nations probe into the issue. It said it was downright interference in the affairs of the Asian nation.

In his war on drugs, over 5,000 suspected drug dealers and users have reportedly been killed. The drive may have angered and caused psychological and emotional damage to the kin of those affected, but it also got the thumbs up from many Filipinos.

Duterte defends it fiercely, especially from international critics and institutions, which he says do not care about the Philippines.

Those who have spoken against the campaign on illegal drugs and human rights record of this president have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Filipino electorate, according to an official.

Last month’s midterm polls, held halfway into Duterte’s six-year term, saw his allies take control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Duterte appears to put his money where his mouth is. He ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.

Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction done without the government’s consent.

It had already agreed to take the rubbish back and the two countries were in the process of arranging the transfer.

But Canada missed a May 15 deadline, set by Manila, to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from the country last week.

Duterte’s alleged intimidatory tactics have riled the media. But the Philippine government has warned the press against plotting to “destroy” President Duterte’s government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news.

The warning followed reports alleging the Duterte family’s involvement in illegal drugs and raising questions about a large increase in his wealth.

“They are all there doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government,” he said.

The issue to be debated here is whether Duterte’s impulsive behaviour will dent his popularity in the long run. Let’s hope for the best.