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A man walks past an image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines A man walks past an image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines, March 20, 2020 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

As His Presidency Winds Down, Can the Philippines’ Duterte Defy History Again?

Monday, July 6, 2020

Rodrigo Duterte’s election as president of the Philippines in May 2016 defied the country’s political history. He was the first candidate from the troubled southern island of Mindanao to ascend to the presidency, and the first to be elected while serving as a local politician. This foul-mouthed, unfashionably attired mayor of Davao City, a thousand kilometers away from “imperial Manila,” easily defeated the runner-up, Manuel “Mar” Roxas, a wealthy, American-educated scion of a once-powerful political dynasty, by more than 15 percentage points.

Over the next two years, as his single, six-year presidential term draws to a close, Duterte has another chance to defy recent Philippine political history. Since the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, no elected president has seen their favored candidate win the succeeding presidential election. The influence of Philippine leaders tends to wane during the final two years of their terms, leaving them with little political clout after leaving office. Duterte’s last three predecessors have even had criminal charges filed against them by the administrations that succeeded them. ...

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