Rody tops TIME 100 ‘most influential’ poll

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Rody tops TIME 100 �most influential� poll
President Rodrigo Duterte is swarmed by supporters upon his arrival at the Khalifa Sports City in Bahrain on April 14, 2017 for the meeting with the Filipino community.
PPD / King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — Readers of Time magazine have chosen President Duterte as the world’s most influential person, picking him over Pope Francis, Presidents Donald Trump of the US, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China as well as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

An announcement by the magazine said Duterte topped the 2017 TIME 100 poll after he consistently led the survey, which closed Sunday night.

The poll asked readers who should be included in this year’s TIME 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people.

It was not clear if Duterte was chosen as a positive influence. Time also picks a “Person of the Year” who has affected world events for better or worse. Among the controversial picks have been terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler.

Duterte has drawn international attention because of the thousands of deaths linked to his war on illegal drugs.

Malacañang nevertheless welcomed Duterte’s selection by Time readers.

“What makes President Rodrigo R. Duterte so admired by Filipinos and international leaders alike is his national agenda. He has prioritized public interest first and foremost, especially the needs and aspirations of the poor and common people,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol debunked speculation that Malacañang could have manipulated the Time online poll.

Piñol said Malacañang could not even conduct an effective media operation and information dissemination, much less manipulate a global poll of Time readers.

“Personally, as a former newsman myself, I think Malacañang’s handling of media operations is weak. I say that in all frankness. Their (communications group) operations are weak. They get left behind in releasing stories and even photos by independent media entities,” Piñol told reporters when asked whether Malacañang could have manipulated the Time poll.

In a report posted on the Time website, Duterte received five percent of the total “yes” votes in the poll.

Since taking office in June, Duterte has waged an aggressive war on drugs that has killed more than 8,000 people in the Philippines, the report quoted Reuters as saying.

The controversial anti-drug campaign has inspired growing opposition from human rights groups and some political leaders, including Vice President Leni Robredo.

Closely following Duterte in the Time 100 poll were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pope Francis, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – all of whom received three percent of the total “yes” votes.

US senator Bernie Sanders won the reader poll in 2016 while Russian President Vladimir Putin took the lead in 2015.

The official Time 100 list, which is selected by the magazine’s editors, will be announced on April 20.

Abella said that even without the distinction, Duterte would continue to be a hardworking government worker and faithful servant of the Filipino people.

“In positive terms, he has a simple three-point agenda: prosperity for all, restore trust in government, build a fair and equitable society,” Abella said without mentioning human rights issues that came with Duterte’s hard stance against illegal drugs.

“Indeed, Filipinos find in the President a kindred spirit – a leader who acts for the common good,” he added.

In making his statement after attending a Senate hearing, Piñol explained why the Palace could not have manipulated the polls.

“There are no such operations (manipulations) because the basis of that statement is the fact that they cannot even organize very well the media operations of Malacañang,” Piñol said. “How much more a popularity contest that has nothing to do with governance in the Philippines?”

He said he already raised his concerns with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Piñol lamented the media and other social media sites put too much emphasis on Duterte’s strong language and his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.

The skewed emphasis of the media, he said, comes at the expense of the other programs of Duterte that do not get enough publicity.

He said the support of the people for Duterte is genuine so it was not surprising for him to top the polls. — With Paolo Romero

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