You cannot argue with judgment that comes from the world over. Sorry but I have to disagree with Malacanang spokesman who hinted that the votes which made Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte land on top of Time Magazine search for the Most Influential Person come from his compatriots.
By the way the dictionary defines and describes it, an influential person is someone who is dominant, controlling, strong, authoritative and persuasive.
Even before the Davao Mayor was sworn-in as President of the Philippines, he was already a subject of wonderment. His City, based on Numbeo, a global data base that runs a continuing and updated reports on cities conditions worldwide, is consistently in the top 10 most safest cities. Not even the garrulous critics of Duterte attempted to dispute that. Davao too is the most livable and child-friendly city in the Philippines and ranked No. 19 in Asia. This awareness is not within the confines of Filipino homes, it too is known to not a few people worldwide.
Duterte shattered the myth pervading in archipelagic Philippines that no one outside of Luzon and Visayas can win a presidential derby. Running virtually without a political vehicle save for a moribund Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he was lacking in national party organization and his campaign kitty cannot even pay for his hotel bills. But Duterte has the masses which traditional politicians thought the can buy and he has friends countrywide who open their homes and garage for him to sleep as he went about the campaign trail. This was not a problem for Duterte because he is used to a frugal lifestyle. Up to now the President contentedly lives in a low-cost subdivision, would prefer mongo with dried fish and “inun-onan” a dish of anchovies with slices of ginger, garlic and ripe tomatoes with a pinch of salt wrapped in young banana leaf.
Duterte simply is not in the mold of Filipino politicians and many of his compatriots would later discover this with awe and admiration. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a doubting Thomas. He flew direct to Davao and personally visited Duterte’s humble home. The nosy photojournalists had their heyday taking pictures of the President’s bedroom including his security mosquito net.
Duterte’s foray into foreign relations ran oblique to the usual protocols. The diplomatic circles, used to the suave and niceties in the art of communications in dealing with heads of state, were shocked with the straightforward and unembellished language of Duterte. He lashed at US exiting Pres. Barrack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for giving a sermon on human rights violations amidst his campaign again crime and drugs. He threw away the adversarial policy of his predecessor Benigno Aquino III and declared a bilateral engagement with China. He openly expressed his admiration of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin. Surely all these resonate to citizens of these great nations.
Brushing aside the lecture of Obama and Ki-moon warning him on the much ballyhooed extra-judicial killings in his campaign against drug syndicates, Duterte instead declared an all-out war against drugs. Ironically this earned admiration from the new US Pres. Donald Trump.
Am citing these tidbits of bulletins to prove my point that Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte is a leader admired by people worldwide and worthy of the title Most Influential Man. Landing on top of Time Magazine list of 114 political, arts, business, religious and people involve in science and technology, was not just on account of Filipino votes. It is a judgment call of various nationalities worldwide which had been following and admiring this iconic leader who is loved by his people and who is not afraid to confront the mighty who had been lording it over the destinies of men and nations.
No amount of character assassination by his political adversaries and interest groups can pull this man down and the world knows that. Not even Time Magazine which stoically adhered to the twisted stories and statistical figures of perjured witnesses and hurting political opponents of Duterte can tarnish the image of the Philippine President.
In the end and as this survey would prove our President must have done something good. And his good deeds are not to be dampened with this laurel. He came home just recently from the Middle East taking with him the first batch of many hundreds of undocumented OFWs and saved not a few from the gallows and death row.
And let’s not forget that in his diplomatic foray into China, Japan, the Middle East and other Asean countries he opened up new markets for Philippine products. The most significant among these is the unprecedented billions of dollars in financial assistance and business investments from China which not too long ago was perceived to be an enemy.
Nationals from these countries must have looked very kindly and with admiration at our President, the one who hails from the hinterlands of Mindanao. The Philippines most adored leader and now the world’s most influential man.
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)