In several speeches, President Rodrigo Duterte allayed fears that he would become a dictator. But there were also instances when he defended his brand of leadership, stressing that there would be no progress if he did not act like one.
AP/Bullit Marquez
Duterte on TIME cover: I’m not a strongman
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 4, 2018 - 7:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite being tagged as one of the strongmen in TIME magazine’s cover story, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday denied that he is a leader who rules with force.

“Isa raw ako sa mga strongmen. Hindi naman ako strongman. I have never sent anybody to jail for criticizing me,” Duterte said in a speech during an event for school principals in Davao City.

Aside from Duterte, the May 14 issue also features his “idol” Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Chinese President Xi Jinpin, whom Duterte has professed love for, is likewise included.

He was described in the article written by political scientist Ian Bremmer as a “former mayor who talked more like a mob boss than a president” and who was elected into power as a response to rising number of street crimes and his vow to eradicate the drug trade.

READDuterte among 'strongmen' in TIME cover story

“Campaign promise ko ‘yan. I won the presidency. I have no machinery but I won by 16 million because I was the only one carrying the message that was appropriate at the time,” Duterte said.

In several speeches, Duterte allayed fears that he would become a dictator. But there were also instances when he defended his brand of leadership, stressing that there would be no progress if he did not act like one.

READDuterte: 'Yes, I am a dictator'

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that Filipinos appreciate Duterte’s “strong and decisive leadership.”

“Filipinos have learned not to take [Duterte] literally with his colourful language but they have surely taken seriously the issues the president has espoused, such as the war on drugs and crime,” Roque said.

Roque maintained that the drug problem is a global burden and the country’s war on drugs has been acknowledged by leaders of other nations.

“The president’s brand of justice strictly adheres to the rule of law where dismantling of the drug apparatus ensures the proper investigation of all drug-related killings,” he said.

READPalace on TIME cover: Filipinos appreciate ‘strongman’ Duterte’s brand of leadership

Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs has claimed lives of thousands, mostly urban-poor dwellers.

The chief executive also said that he would not mind being attacked by Filipinos because they are his “employers” but not by foreigners.

“Pero kung foreigner ka, that is another thing. Maski na sabihin mo religious ka,” Duterte said.

Last month, the president revealed that he was the one who ordered the Bureau of Immigration to investigate Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox for her supposed vocal criticism of the government.

The Bureau of Immigration seeks the expulsion of Fox from the country due to her violation of immigration rules by joining partisan activities while she is in the Philippines with a missionary visa.

READDuterte says he ordered Immigration to investigate Australian nun

RODRIGO DUTERTE STRONGMAN TIME MAGAZINE
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