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President Duterte and his partner Honeylet welcome US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the gala dinner hosted by the Philippines for the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and dialogue partners at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City last November 12. PCOO

A different Asean leader

By: Allan Mediante

Just this week, Pulse Asia came out with the result of its survey declaring President Rodrigo Duterte as the most approved and trusted president among the last four chief executives of the Philippines.

Getting an 80 percent rating, Filipinos’ trust and approval on President Rodrigo Duterte is higher than ratings of former Presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III.

According to Pulse Asia, Duterte had an average performance approval rating of 81.8 percent between September 2016 and September 2017 and an average trust rating of 82.8 percent between July 2016 and September 2017.

President Noynoy Aquino had an end term approval rating of 45-percent, and from October 2010 to July 2016, an average rating of 65.3 percent.

Arroyo ended her nine-year term with only a 16-percent approval rating, dismally low with an average of 37.1-percent rating after she assumed the presidency when Estrada was ousted in March 2001, up to July 2010 when Aquino was elected.

Pulse Asia explained that Duterte’s ratings “invariably topped that of his predecessors, despite well-publicized criticism from various local and international groups of his administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.”

The citation was humbly accepted by President Digong who also expressed his appreciation, according to presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque in a statement, adding that “regardless of survey results, PRRD and the members of his Cabinet would continue to work and advance public interests and build a nation worthy of the Filipinos.”

The positive ratings for Duterte came about even during the start of his Presidency and has remained strong despite the severe criticisms from his political opponents on his radical policies.

His foreign policy venture around Asia has led into fruition with the holding of the 31st Asean Summit here this week.

His congenial welcome gesture to US President Donald Trump, undeniably showed a “shift in policy” as he once boasted of seeking to sever ties with the United States.

But he has since offered President Donald Trump “full friendship and cooperation,” and this was gleaned during APEC Summit in Vietnam and the 31st Asean Summit in Manila.

Thanks to President Duterte’s chairmanship of the31st Asean Summit as among the most important achievement of the event was the signing of the accord to protect the region’s migrant workers followed by the free trade agreements cemented

Arroyo ended her nine-year term with only a 16-percent approval rating, dismally low with an average of 37.1-percent rating after she assumed the presidency when Estrada was ousted in March 2001, up to July 2010 when Aquino was elected.

Pulse Asia explained that Duterte’s ratings “invariably topped that of his predeces with the signing of two pacts – the Asean-Hong Kong-China Free Trade Agreement and the Asean-Hong Kong Investment.

Affirming Duterte’s integrity and credibility, President Donald Trump during the 31st Asean Summit stated: “Rodrigo, I would like to commend you on your success as Asean chair at this very critical moment in time, and in the association’s history, such an important event. And I want to thank you for your incredible hospitality.”

On the other hand, what do political analysts say?

“Duterte’s popularity is largely the product of his populist, anti-elite image. He comes across very strongly as ‘makamasa’ and it’s not only giving an impression, he packs that with good action,” said Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law.

For a Philippine president, making a difference among Asean and global leaders had remained an “impossible mission.”

But to Duterte, it just came naturally possible.

Mr. Mediante is incumbent Vice President of the Philippine Press Institute; Executive Vice President of Cagayan de Oro Press Club; and Editor in Chief of Mindanao Daily News – a region-wide newspaper based in Cagayan de Oro City.

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