DESPITE international criticism, President Rodrigo Duterte is leading early in the online poll for Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017.
Duterte ranked first with four percent of the online votes, beating Pope Francis whom he cursed in the campaign trail for creating a traffic mess during his 2015 visit to the Philippines. The Pope got three percent.
Duterte is also beating Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who each got two percent of the votes.
Also high on the vote tally are Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, American gymnast Simone Biles, Women’s March organizers Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland;
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, tennis star Serena Williams, celebrity Oprah Winfrey, Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling, actresses Emma Watson and Viola Davis, Olympic athlete Usain Bolt, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and business magnate Elon Musk.
The Time poll comes on the heels of the New York Times article titled “Duterte: The Making of a Strongman” that tackled Duterte’s supposed appetite for violence, which Malacañang has dismissed as a “hack job.”
Duterte won the presidency in the May 2016 polls with 16 million votes despite joining the race two months late, overwhelming his closest rivals Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Sen. Grace Poe by seven million votes.
But for the Time 100, the popular vote is not the clincher because Time magazine’s editors will choose who gets in the final list.
Voting will close on April 16, 11:59 p.m., US Eastern time. The Time 100 list will be unveiled on April 20.
Duterte promised to eradicate the illegal drug trade and corruption in three to six months after assuming the presidency on June 30, 2016, but has since backtracked.
Duterte has said the fight against illegal drugs, corruption and other crimes will continue until the end of his term in June 2022, claiming he didn’t know the magnitude of the problems until he became President.
The President, a former mayor of Davao City, nevertheless remains popular, particularly in the National Capital Region.
A Pulse Asia survey over the weekend showed that 82 percent of Metro Manila residents feel safer as a result of the administration’s bloody war on drugs.
“We are pleased with the latest Pulse Asia survey showing that more than 8 out of 10 residents of Metro Manila now feel safer in the streets as a result of the government’s drive against illegal drugs. The administration’s drug war is well-received by the people on the ground in sharp contrast to the gloom and hopelessness depicted by the President’s critics,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
“This favorable public sentiment gives us strong impetus to surge ahead in our anti-drug campaign and hope that we continually get the cooperation of the community, and even support of the clergy, especially in the implementation of a rehabilitation program for Tokhang surrenderers,” Abella added, referring to the police’s anti-drug campaign.