Supporters see Duterte and Trump as Hope for Change

MEETING: US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hand with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Palace.

Courtesy of U.S. State Dept.

MEETING: US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hand with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Palace.

Recently elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been dubbed “Trump of the East” by the media for his vulgar language and foul mouthed rhetoric.

He has joked about the brutal rape and murder of an Australian missionary in Davao City, called Pope Francis and President Obama “son of a whore” and just recently, compared his war against drugs to the Holocaust and likening himself to Hitler.

Duterte has also been condemned for his anti-drug campaign that allegedly resulted in over 3,000 extrajudicial killings in the country since his inauguration on June 30.

But despite his inappropriate comments and infamous war against drugs, Filipinos still love their president. They call him their hope for change.

He has a “97 percent trust rating as of last week, despite the growing numbers of drug users and pushers killed as a result of extrajudicial killings,” according to Hazel Ramos, a professor who teaches Philippine history.

She gave a lecture on campus, Oct. 3, sharing a historical perspective on why Filipinos love Duterte.

She discussed how democracy is applied in the Philippines explaining how political leaders, who are mostly related by blood or marriage, hold the majority of wealth and power. The Philippines has a political system designed to benefit the rich and powerful creating a huge socioeconomic gap.

Duterte bridged that gap for the people. He lives in a modest home, dresses in polo shirts and khakis and dines at sidewalk eateries.

“He communes with the people. The idea is that he is relatable to the average Filipino versus the Manila elite,” Ramos said.

He was the mayor of Davao, a city in the south of the Philippines, for 20 years before he decided to run for presidential office. Davao has seen major changes under his rule. A liquor ban and curfew for minors were just some of the popular laws he imposed on the city.

In 2015, Davao was considered the fifth safest city in the world, when in the 1980s it was one of the most violent places in the Philippines, where people were killed in broad daylight.

“Duterte, for them, is seen as a hero because of what he has done to Davao City. He has cleaned up Davao using authoritarianism,” Ramos said. “He has a track record that has worked so if he applies it to the Philippines, the hope is that he’ll clean up the Philippines and that people will do better economically.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, on the other hand, has no political track record to speak of and a lot of controversial issues have dogged his name, though Trump’s vocabulary can rival that of Duterte’s.

Trump has been bashed for his misogynist and racist comments – calling former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping,” mocking the reporter with a disability. Just recently, a tape has leaked out with Trump saying crude comments towards women.

“A lot of people like the fact that he is not politically correct, he’s blunt,” Dr. John Queen, political science department co-chair, explained. “He says things that a lot of people have stopped saying. There are a lot of people, conservative people, who feel like they are not able to express themselves without being looked down on by other people.”

“The other thing that is going on is the aftermath of the great recession,” Queen said. “People’s economic situation has either deteriorated or flattened out so their income isn’t rising. A lot of people got hit very hard by that [recession] and there’s a lot of anger that comes out of that.”

He explained that Trump appeals to the issue of economic equality and the stagnation of the middle class by blaming other people in the country – especially the immigrants.

Unlike Duterte, Trump does not have a modest lifestyle that allows him to reach out to the working-class people. He is a real estate mogul and a reality television personality, but the people see him as someone new, as someone who does not have a political background may be a breath of fresh air to some people who are tired of the politicians.

The USA Today Network interviewed Trump supporters from across the country on why they decided to vote for Trump.

“If we continue to vote for the same old governors, the same old senator, the same old politicians, we’re going to get the same old government,” Roz Lesser, 71, from Florida said. “Changes have to take place in Washington, and I honestly feel that Mr. Trump is the one that can make those changes happen at the very minimum. It hasn’t worked with the career politicians, let’s give it a try.”

Some of them also tend to see the silver lining in Trump’s comments, pointing out that he’s being honest, unlike his opponent Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t like the fact that he is very verbally disrespectful sometimes, but I think he’s very honest, and it’s not something we see,” South Carolina voter, Meredith Mason said. “Usually politicians will tell this group what they want to hear and then they’ll go tell the next group what they want to hear. It’s refreshing to have somebody who actually has an opinion and is not afraid to voice it.”

Recent polls show a decline on Trump supporters though it is still a close match between the two presidential candidates. After the second presidential debate, there are stills a lot of issues and questions left unanswered by both parties. But one of the big questions is, ‘what can Trump do for the country if he wins?’

“A lot less than he thinks he can,” Queen explained. “He could have a lot of influence in trade. He could make a lot of changes in regards to climate change. He could have an immediate impact on the Court, pushing it in a conservative direction. Several of the justices are quite old and he might have the opportunity to appoint more than one justice. And that impact would last decades.”