MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang brushed aside the supposed "slant" in a TIME magazine feature counting President Rodrigo Duterte as among the "strongmen" leaders of the era.
The feature, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, just shows how the Philippine leader has exemplified "strong and decisive" governance style.
"Regardless of slant, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has demonstrated strong and decisive leadership – a quality appreciated by Filipinos as evidenced by the Chief Executive’s high satisfaction, approval, trust and performance ratings," said Roque in a statement sent to media on Friday, May 4.
The TIME feature, entitled "The Strongmen Era Is Here. Here's What It Means for You," ranks Duterte among the likes of US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as examples of "muscular, assertive leadership" with little regard for civil liberties.
Roque tried to dispel some of the notions about Duterte's leadership style in the article.
The piece, published online by TIME on Friday, described Duterte as a leader who "talked more like a Mob boss than a President" and who "promises to wipe out the drug trade with his own brand of justice."
To this, Roque responded, "Filipinos have learned not to take PRRD literally with his colorful language but they have surely taken seriously the issues the President has espoused, such as the war on drugs and crime."
The spokesman also said that Duterte's "brand of justice" is within the bounds of law.
"The President’s brand of justice strictly adheres to the rule of law where the dismantling of the drug apparatus ensures the proper investigation of all drug-related killings," said Roque.
Duterte has been criticized in the country and abroad for his bloody campaign against illegal drugs which has been linked to thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings.
The government itself counts around 4,000 deaths during legitimate police operations and even touted this as "accomplishments."
But some 17,000 more deaths are "deaths under investigation," a new category of homicides which include those supposedly carried out by vigilantes. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.