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Is Duterte seeing the beginning of the end?

37 10 2

A THIRD of the way through his presidency, is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte already a spent force? He would seem to think so himself. Duterte mused in August and December 2018 of resigning if he could be assured that he would be replaced by Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. — the son of former presidential strongman, Ferdinand Marcos.

In the Philippines the vice president is elected separately, rather than as part of a presidential ticket, and often becomes the central figure in opposition to the incumbent president. This is the case for Vice President Leni Robredo today and why Duterte is hoping that the legal challenge of the 2016 vice presidential runner-up Marcos Jr. will succeed in invalidating Robredo’s election.

While according to the opinion polls Duterte remains overwhelmingly popular (with 80 per cent approval in the latest Social Weather Stations survey), this support seems shallow. On social media it is difficult to distinguish between the genuine ‘diehard Duterte supporters’ and his ‘militia’ of paid trollers. At the elite level, Duterte has helped resuscitate previously discredited political clans, such as that of Gloria Arroyo, Joseph Estrada and Ferdinand Marcos. But their support is transactional, rather than demonstrating ideological commitment or even personal loyalty.

SEE ALSO: Duterte wipes out Filipino Customs top brass over drug shipment

Unlike most autocrats, Duterte has failed to create a mass-based organisation to perpetuate his regime. Both the Kilusang Pagbabago (Coalition for Change) and the........

© Asian Correspondent