Rodrigo Roa Duterte – Sixteenth President
Sixteenth President of the Philippines
Rodrigo Roa Duterte, KGCR; (born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong and Rody, is a Filipino politician who is the 16th and incumbent President of the Philippines and the first from Mindanao to hold the office.
He is the chairperson of PDP–Laban, the ruling political party. Duterte took office at age 71 on June 30, 2016, making him the oldest person to assume the Philippine presidency; the record was previously held by Sergio Osmeña at the age of 65.
Duterte born in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972.
He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, before becoming vice mayor and, subsequently, mayor of the city in the wake of the Philippine Revolution of 1986. Duterte won seven terms and served as mayor of Davao for over 22 years.
Frequently described as a populist and a nationalist, Duterte’s political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals.
Human rights groups have documented over 1400 killings allegedly by death squads operating in Davao between 1998 and May 2016; the victims were mainly drug users, petty criminals and street children.
A 2009 report by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights confirmed the “systematic practice of extrajudicial killings” by the Davao Death Squad. Duterte has alternately confirmed and denied his involvement.
The Office of the Ombudsman closed an investigation in January 2016 stating that they found no evidence that the Davao Death Squad exists, and no evidence to connect the police or Duterte with the killings. The case has since been reopened. Duterte has repeatedly confirmed that he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.
On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 39% of the votes, defeating four other candidates, namely Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party (23.5%), Senator Grace Poe (21.4%), former vice president Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (12.7%), and the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (3.4%). During his campaign, he promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and end crime within six months. His domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by initiating the Philippine Drug War.
According to the Philippine National Police the death total passed 7000 in January 2017, after which the police stopped publishing data.
Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since his election, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations.
He has declared his intention to pursue an “independent foreign policy”, and sought to distance the Philippines from the United States and European Union and pursue closer ties with China and Russia.