Rodrigo Duterte

"Duterte" redirects here. For others with the surname, see Duterte (surname).
"DU30" redirects here. For his presidential campaign which used "DU30" as his stylized campaign name, see Rodrigo Duterte presidential campaign, 2016.

This name uses Philippine naming customs. The maternal family name is Roa and the paternal family name is Duterte.
Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte in September 2016
16th President of the Philippines
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
Vice President Leni Robredo
Preceded by Benigno Aquino III
Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2013  June 30, 2016
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
June 30, 2001  June 30, 2010
Preceded by Benjamin C. de Guzman
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
February 2, 1988  March 19, 1998
Preceded by Jacinto T. Rubillar
Succeeded by Benjamin C. de Guzman
Vice Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2010  June 30, 2013
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Paolo Duterte
In office
May 2, 1986  November 27, 1987
Officer in Charge
Preceded by Cornelio P. Maskariño
Succeeded by Gilbert G. Abellera
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives
from Davao City's 1st district
In office
June 30, 1998  June 30, 2001
Preceded by Prospero Nograles
Succeeded by Prospero Nograles
Personal details
Born Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(1945-03-28) March 28, 1945
Maasin, Leyte, Philippines
Political party PDP–Laban (present)
Other political
Kabataang Makabayan[1] (1970s)
Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (late 1990s)
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (2011–present)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Zimmerman (m. 1973; ann. 2000)
Domestic partner Cielito Avanceña
Children 4 (including Paolo and Sara)
Residence Bahay Pagbabago[2][3][4]
Alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines University (A.B.)
San Beda College (LL.B.)
Website Official website
This article is part of a series about
Rodrigo Duterte

President of the Philippines


Member of the House of Representatives from Davao City's 1st district

Mayor of Davao City

Vice Mayor of Davao City

Political parties


Rodrigo "Rody" Roa Duterte (Tagalog: [ɾoˈdrigo dʊˈtɛrtɛ]; born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong,[5] is a Filipino politician and jurist who is the 16th and current President of the Philippines, and Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for 2017.[6][7][8] He is the first Mindanaoan to hold the office, and the fourth of Visayan descent.[9] At 71 years old, he is the oldest person to assume the presidency; surpassing Sergio Osmeña and Fidel Ramos.

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, a highly urbanized city on Mindanao island, before becoming vice mayor and subsequently, mayor of the city, in wake of the Philippine Revolution of 1986. Duterte was among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines, serving seven terms and totaling more than 22 years in office.

Duterte's political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and criminals.[10] Human rights groups have documented over 1,400 killings allegedly by vigilante groups occurring in Davao between 1998 and May 2016; the victims were mainly drug users, petty criminals and street children.[11] Duterte denied any involvement in the said vigilante groups.[12] A January 2016 decision by the Office of the Ombudsman on the alleged death squad in Davao between 2005 and 2009 found "no evidence to support 'the killings attributed or attributable to the Davao Death Squad much less the involvement of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte".

On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 38.5% of the votes,[13] after a campaign in which he promised to defeat crime by killing tens of thousands of criminals.[14] His domestic policy has focused on combating illegal drug trade by initiating the Philippine Drug War. Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since the election, he threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations.[15] His administration has also vowed to pursue an "independent foreign policy" that would reject any meddling by foreign governments.[16]

Early life

Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin (now the capital of Southern Leyte but was then part of the insular province of Leyte in the Philippine Commonwealth).[17] His maternal grandfather was a Chinese immigrant from Xiamen, Fujian.[18] His father was Vicente G. Duterte (1911–1968), a Cebuano lawyer; and his mother Soledad Duterte (née Roa) (1916–2012), was a school teacher from Cabadbaran, Agusan and a civic leader of Maranao descent. Duterte's father was acting mayor of Danao, Cebu and subsequently the provincial governor of (the then-undivided) Davao province.

Rodrigo's cousin Ronald, on the other hand, served as Cebu City mayor from 1983 to 1986. Ronald's father, Ramon Duterte, also held the position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes consider the Cebu-based political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives.[19] Duterte also has relatives from the Roa clan in Leyte through his mother's side.[20] Before they resettled to Davao, Duterte's family briefly lived in his birthplace in Maasin, Leyte, and in his father's hometown in Danao, Cebu, until he was four years old.[21]

The Dutertes initially moved to Mindanao in 1948 but still went back and forth to the Visayas until 1949.[22] They finally settled in the Davao Region in 1950. Vicente as a lawyer engaged in private practice, while Soledad taught in public schools as a teacher. Mrs Duterte, however, retired as a supervisor in 1952 when her lawyer-husband entered politics there.


Duterte went to Laboon Elementary School in Maasin, for a year.[20] He spent his remaining elementary days at the Santa Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education in the High School Department of the then Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College) in today's city of Digos in the now defunct Davao province, after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in Ateneo de Davao University High School due to misconduct.[19] He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines in Manila. He obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. In the same year, he passed the bar exam. Duterte eventually became Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977–79, Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979–81, Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981–83, and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983–86.


Duterte has said that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a minor.[23] After he was challenged by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and AdDU officials to name the priest and file a case against him, Duterte then revealed the priest's name as Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ (d. 1975). The Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines confirmed that according to press reports in the United States, in May 2007, the Society of Jesus agreed to a tentative payout of USD16 million to settle claims that Falvey sexually abused at least nine children in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1975. Accusations against Falvey began in 2002 and he was never charged with a crime. Additionally in May 2008, the Diocese of Sacramento paid $100,000 settlement to a person allegedly raped and molested by Mark's brother, Fr. Arthur Falvey. However, it was not clearly indicated in the report if Mark Falvey was assigned at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao.[24] When asked why he didn't complain when the abuse supposedly happened, Duterte claimed that he was too young to complain about the priest's abuse and was intimidated by authorities at that time. He also stated that he never disclosed that information after he was expelled and moved to a different high school and especially not to his family.[25]

Shooting of student at law school

Duterte stated at a rally in April 2016 that he shot a fellow student who had teased him about his Visayan origin, while at San Beda law college: "But the truth is, I'm used to shooting people. When we were about to graduate from San Beda, I shot a person." Duterte said that he shot the student in a corridor at the college. He later told a reporter that the student survived, but refused to answer any further questions about the incident.[26]

Mayor of Davao City

Duterte (left) with President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor. In 1988, he ran for mayor and won, serving until 1998. He set a precedent by designating deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the Philippines. In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st District of Davao City (under the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino coalition). In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was re-elected in 2004 and in 2007.[27]

Davao City under Duterte won the National Literacy Hall of Fame Award for being a three-time first-place winner in the Outstanding Local Government Unit, Highly Urbanized City category. In 2013, Davao City sent rescue and medical teams to Tacloban to give aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known in the country as Typhoon Yolanda. Financial assistance was also given to Bohol and Cebu for the earthquake victims.

In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as mayor. He has been offered the Interior Secretary post 4 times, by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III but rejected all of them.[19]

Duterte banned swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants in Davao City. Duterte also gained prominence for supporting the first-ever Gawad Kalinga Village inside a jail facility which is only located in Davao City. It is a home-type jail with ten cottages built inside the compound, which now serve as home for almost 100 women inmates.

Law and order

Duterte (third from left) leading the city-wide 2015 Torotot Festival

Through the support of Duterte, the City Council amended ordinance No. 1627, Series of 1994, to impose a prohibition on selling, serving, drinking and consuming alcoholic beverages from 01:00 until 08:00 each morning. Executive Order No. 39 was signed by Duterte, reducing the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City in the interest of public safety and order.[28] Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 to impose an order creating the implementing of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367-12, Series of 2012.[29] Davao City's Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002 by the City Council through the support of Duterte.[30]

Another known accomplishment was that the City Government of Davao was able to acquire 10 more ambulances for central 911 intended for medical emergencies and 42 new mobile patrol vehicles and motorcycles for the Davao City Police Office (the first and only 9-1-1 emergency telephone number in Asia which is also free of charge).[31] Duterte, through Executive Order No. 24, ordered all shopping malls and commercial centers to install, operate and maintain high end and high definition closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all entrance and exit points of their premises.[32]

Duterte also passed the city's Women Development Code, the first and only in the country, which aims "to uphold the rights of women and the belief in their worth and dignity as human beings" and pushed for the Magna Carta for Women in Davao. It is a comprehensive women's human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women.[33][34]

Crime rate

Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009

Reuters reported in May 2016 that according to national police Davao has the highest murder rate and the second highest rape rate among 15 Philippine cities, and that locals think that the city has become safer because of Duterte's campaigns against drugs and crime.[35][36]

Crime figures reported by Duterte, stated that crime in the city was significantly reduced during the period 1985–2000. Duterte suggested that there had been a decrease in crime from a triple-digit crime rate per 1,000 people in 1985, to 0.8 cases per 10,000 inhabitants in the period 1999 to 2005. Furthermore, according to police statistics, the population in Davao City grew from 1.12 million to 1.44 million between 1999 and 2008 (29 per cent). In the corresponding period, the incidence of reported crime rose from 975 to 3,391 (248 per cent).[37]

The number of index crimes have significantly decreased since 2013 and 2015, with most killings occurring during police operations.[38]

Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal. In Davao, by city ordinance, police ensure that prostitutes have a valid health card, but do not arrest them.[39] In 2010, the Philippine Child Protection Unit stated that Davao was one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines.[40] Jeanette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, a Davao-based NGO that helps prostitutes, said in October 2016 that child prostitution had sharply increased over the past two years. She said that children were cheaper and more marketable.[41]

Extrajudicial killings

Duterte, who has been dubbed "The Punisher" by Time magazine,[42] has been linked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to extrajudicial killings of over 1,400 alleged criminals and street children by vigilante death squads.[10][43] In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, "The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive."[44] Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001–2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of "criminals", some of whom were later executed.[45] In July 2005 at a crime summit at the Manila Hotel, Duterte said, "Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs".[46]

Duterte has denied responsibility for the extra-judicial killings. He has also frequently announced his support for them. According to Reuters, "Duterte's loud approval for hundreds of execution-style killings of drug users and criminals over nearly two decades helped propel him to the highest office of a crime-weary land."[10] In 2009 Duterte said: "If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination."[47] In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that, if elected president, he may kill up to 100,000 criminals. After the said confirmation, Duterte challenged human rights officials to file a case against him if they could provide evidence to his links with vigilante groups.[48]

Federalism advocacy

In September 2014, Duterte and former mayors and governors, calling themselves the Mindanao Council of Leaders, advocated for a federalist government.[49] A month later, Duterte attended an event sponsored by the Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City.[50] In December 2014 Duterte held a summit entitled Mindanawons Forging Unity Toward a Federal System of Government.[51]

Presidential campaign

Duterte campaigning on a motorcade in Navotas, April 27, 2016

As early as the first quarter of 2015, Duterte made hints to the media of his intention to run for president in the 2016 elections. However, he denied these plans numerous times amidst clamor from his supporters for him to run.

In January, Duterte said he would abolish Congress if he chose to run for President and was elected.[52] On November 21, in a private gathering with fraternity brothers from San Beda College of Law, Duterte formally announced his presidential bid and also finally accepted Alan Peter Cayetano's offer to be his running mate, and named his daughter, Sara, as his substitute for Mayor.[53][54]

In his campaign he said he would introduce a federal parliamentary form of government. He also promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals, and eradicate crime in six months.[55][56]

Rape comments

At a campaign rally on April 12, 2016, Duterte told supporters that, as Mayor, he thought he "should have been first" to rape Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed during the 1989 Davao hostage crisis. He recalled examining her corpse:

When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up. I was angry because she was raped? Yes, that's one thing. But she was so beautiful, I think the mayor should have been first. What a waste.[57]

After being condemned for his comments, Duterte later apologized for the incident and acknowledged the comment as a "bad remark" saying he regretted his "gutter language" but would not apologize for being misinterpreted. He insists though that the remark was not a "joke" as reported by some media outlets, saying that he stated it in a narrative. He further said that he was not apologizing for stating the remark reasoning that he made the remark out of "utter anger" when he recalled the events.[58] He threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the US and Australia, if elected, after their ambassadors criticized his comments.[56]

His daughter Sara subsequently announced on social media that she was a rape victim, but would still vote for her father. He said that he doubted her story, jokingly referring to her as a "drama queen".[59]

Human rights

In a campaign speech on April 27 to business leaders, he said his presidency would be "a bloody one", but that he would issue "a thousand pardons a day" to police and soldiers accused of human rights abuses, and would also issue a presidential pardon to himself for mass murder at the end of his six year term.[56]


Presidential styles of
Rodrigo Roa Duterte[60][61]
Reference style President Duterte[61]
Spoken style Your President
Alternative style Mr. President, President Mayor[62]

On May 30, 2016, the 16th Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Duterte as the President-elect of the Philippines after he topped the official count by the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 presidential election with 16,601,997 votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, Mar Roxas.[63][64][65]

At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the presidency, after former President Sergio Osmeña. Duterte is also the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President, the second Cebuano to become president (after Osmeña), the third Cebuano-speaking president (after Osmeña and Carlos P. Garcia), the first Visayan from Mindanao and the fourth Visayan overall (after Osmeña, Manuel Roxas and Garcia).[66]

President-elect Duterte (left) and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace on inauguration day, June 30, 2016
Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines before Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes at Malacañang Palace while his children look on, June 30, 2016.

A Pulse Asia survey conducted from July 2–8 showed that Duterte had a trust rating of 91%, the highest of the six presidents since the Marcos dictatorship (the previous highest was Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III with 87%).[13] Shortly after his inauguration on June 30, Duterte held his first Cabinet meeting to lay out their first agenda, which included the country's disaster risk reduction management, decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the country's main gateway, and expressed his ideas and concerns regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea prior to the announcement of the verdict of the Philippines' arbitration case against China over the issue,[67] which the Philippines later won.[68] Four days later, on July 4, Duterte issued his first executive order entitled "Reengineering the Office of the President Towards Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals", allowing his Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., to supervise over several agencies that focus on poverty reduction.[69] On July 23, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 also known as the Freedom of Information Order.[70]

On August 1, 2016, Duterte launched a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide complaint hotline, 8888, while also changing the country's emergency telephone number from 117 to 911.[71]

On August 7, Duterte approved the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig scheduled for October 18,[72] saying that Marcos is qualified for the burial at the cemetery due to him being a "former president and a soldier". The decision was vehemently opposed, due to "the brutal, oppressive and corrupt nature of Marcos's two-decade regime."[73] An online petition which received over 30,000 signatures stated:

Burying Ferdinand E Marcos alongside our nation's heroes who fought for our freedom is an affront to the thousands of lives tortured and murdered during his reign. Laying him to rest at the Heroes' Cemetery is a disdainful act that will send a message to the future of our nation—our children—that the world we live in rewards forceful and violent hands.[73]
Duterte visits a victim of the Davao City bombing at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, September 3, 2016

Following the September 2 bombing in Davao City that killed 14 people in the city's central business district, on September 3 Duterte declared a "state of lawlessness", and on the following day signed a declaration of a "state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao".[74] The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered to "suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao" and to "prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere". Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the declaration "does not specify the imposition of curfews", and would remain in force indefinitely. He explained: "The recent incidents, the escape of terrorists from prisons, the beheadings, then eventually what happened in Davao. That was the basis."[75] The state of emergency has been seen as an attempt by Duterte to "enhance his already strong hold on power, and give him carte blanche to impose further measures" in his so-called drug war: "Never previously has a state of emergency been declared as a result of a single bombing or kidnappings, which were in any event far more serious a decade ago than they are today. And, in fairness, bombings have regrettably become commonplace in areas of the southern Philippines over the past two decades."[76]

While adjusting to working and residing at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte divides his workweek between Manila and Davao City by spending three days in each city, utilizing the Malacañang of the South while in Davao.[77]


Office Name Term
President Rodrigo Duterte June 30, 2016
Vice President Leni Robredo June 30, 2016
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea June 30, 2016
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. June 30, 2016
Presidential Legal Counsel Chief Salvador Panelo June 30, 2016
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella June 30, 2016
Presidential Management Staff Head and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go June 30, 2016
Secretary of the Presidential Communications Office Martin Andanar June 30, 2016
Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority Ernesto Pernia June 30, 2016
Secretary of Agrarian Reform Rafael V. Mariano June 30, 2016
Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Piñol June 30, 2016
Secretary of Budget and Management Benjamin Diokno June 30, 2016
Secretary of Education Leonor Briones June 30, 2016
Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi June 30, 2016
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Gina Lopez June 30, 2016
Secretary of Finance Carlos Domínguez III June 30, 2016
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay, Jr. June 30, 2016
Secretary of Health Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial June 30, 2016
Secretary of Information and Communications Technology Rodolfo Salalima June 30, 2016
Secretary of Interior and Local Government Ismael Sueno June 30, 2016
Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II June 30, 2016
Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre Bello III June 30, 2016
Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana June 30, 2016
Secretary of Public Works and Highways Rafael Yabut (acting) June 30, 2016 July 31, 2016
Mark Villar August 1, 2016
Secretary of Science and Technology Fortunato de la Peña June 30, 2016
Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Judy Taguiwalo June 30, 2016
Secretary of Tourism Wanda Corazon Teo June 30, 2016
Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramón López June 30, 2016
Secretary of Transportation Arthur Tugade June 30, 2016

Media killings

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 174 assassinations recorded since the Marcos dictatorship. In a press conference on 31 May 2016, Duterte said that "Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won't be killed if you don't do anything wrong." He appeared to announce his support for killing "corrupt" journalists: "Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you're a son of a bitch".

At the press conference where Duterte announced this, he wolf-whistled at a female journalist when she asked a question.[78] At a news conference on the following day he defended his comments and refused to apologise, telling reporters, "I cannot protect you". He has been criticized by foreign and domestic media organizations regarding his comments.[79] The Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists said: "What he has done with these irresponsible comments is give security officials the right to kill for acts that they consider defamation. This is one of the most outrageous statements we have ever heard from a president in the Philippines."[80]

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom, stated in October 2016 that major newspapers and television stations have not critically analyzed Duterte's policies, because "they fear him. They basically are afraid to be singled out."[81]

Domestic policy

Anti-drug campaign

Main article: Philippine Drug War

In the first three months of Duterte's term in office, according to police figures, over 3,000 killings were attributed to his nationwide anti-drug campaign. More than half were attributed to vigilantes. At the beginning of October, a senior police officer told The Guardian that 10 "special ops" official police death squads had been operating, and that he had personally been involved in killing 87 suspects. He described how the corpses were dumped at the roadside ("salvage" victims), or had their heads wrapped in masking tape with a cardboard placard labelling them as a drug offender, so that the killing would not be investigated. The chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, Chito Gascon, was quoted in the report: "I am not surprised, I have heard of this." The Philippine National Police declined to comment. The report stated: "although the Guardian can verify the policeman's rank and his service history, there is no independent, official confirmation for the allegations of state complicity and police coordination in mass murder."[82]

Duterte presents a chart which, he claims, illustrates a drug trade network of drug syndicates, on July 7, 2016.

Duterte has justified the drug war by claiming that the Philippines was becoming a "narco-state". In October 2016, Amnesty International stated there is "little evidence" of this; according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the prevalence of drug use in the country is lower than the global average.[83] He has dismissed the UN's human rights concerns by dehumanizing drug users, stating in August 2016: "Crime against humanity? In the first place, I'd like to be frank with you. Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?"[84]

During his presidential campaign and transition, Duterte called for the reimposition of capital punishment in the country to execute criminals involved in "heinous" crimes, such as illegal drug trade, insisting on hanging.[85] Capital punishment in the Philippines was abolished by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 24, 2006.

Duterte delivering his first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on July 25, 2016

After his inauguration, Duterte spoke to journalists in Tondo, Manila, where he urged Filipino citizens to voluntarily kill drug pushers and addicts.[86] A day after his inauguration, Duterte requested for the New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to "disarm and arrest" drug lords.[87]

That same day, police chief Ronald dela Rosa warned police officers and personnel involved in illegal drug trade with the option to voluntarily surrender within 48 hours or "take an absence without official leave, continue being a drug lord, and declare war against the police."[88] On July 5, 2016, Duterte revealed the names of five police officials who were allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.[89] On July 7, during a press conference, Duterte presented a chart identifying three Chinese nationals who serve as drug lords in the Philippines.[90][91] Chief dela Rosa added that there are 23 mayors on Duterte's list of officials involved in illegal drug trade.[92]

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a "kill list" documenting the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals involved in drug trafficking by police.[93] Lawmakers responded with criticism to the rise of extrajudicial killings called by Duterte and demanded congressional inquiries and investigation on the incidents. Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat urged the Philippine House of Representatives to investigate the "spate of extrajudicial killings and/or summary executions of suspected violators of laws on illegal drugs and other suspected criminals," defending Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution which states that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."[94] Senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima urged Duterte's administration to cease the extrajudicial killings and said that she would file a resolution for the Philippine Senate to conduct an investigation, expressing worry that it could cause disorderly violence in communities.[95] While praising Duterte's effort to eradicate illegal drug trade, the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also asked Duterte to investigate the increasing number of extrajudicial killings, expressing concern over the deaths of alleged drug dealers.[96] The Duterte administration, through Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, responded to the criticism by demanding critics to provide substantive evidence during investigation, which he says the administration is opened to cooperating with.[97]

Mindanao insurgency

Further information: Bangsamoro peace process and Moro conflict
Duterte welcomes Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad following his release from Abu Sayyaf captivity.

During the Mindanao Hariraya Eid al-Fitr 2016 convention in Davao City on July 8, 2016, Duterte vowed to address the Moro conflict and bring peace in Mindanao, assuring the Filipino Muslim community that "something will change" before the end of his term. He said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) both support his proposal for federalism in the Philippines, which he says is the only solution to the Bangsamoro peace process. Duterte said that if the proposal for the country's shift to federalism fails or is not desired by the Filipino people, he will vow to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. He also added that the Basic Law should benefit both MILF and MNLF, saying he is willing to negotiate with both secessionists to initiate a "reconfiguration" of territory.[98][99]

The Bud Dajo Massacre inflicted upon the Moros were brought up by President Duterte to criticize the United States and President Barack Obama.[100]

On November 6, 2016, Duterte signed an executive order to expand the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to 21 members from 15, in which 11 will be decided by the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government. The commission was formed in December 2013 and is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro[101]

Communist insurgency

Further information: CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion

In July 2016, Duterte directed his peace process advisor for the CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion, Silvestre Bello III, to lead a government panel in resuming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo, Norway, expressing hope that a peace treaty between the rebellions would be reached within a year.[102] The first talks began on August 22–26, 2016, where the parties agreed upon were "the affirmation of previously signed agreements, the reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees which 'protects the rights of negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel involved in peace nogtiations,'[103] and the accelerated progress for negotiations."[104]

Foreign policy

Duterte joins other ASEAN heads of states, holding hands as a symbol of unity in Vientiane, Laos, September 7, 2016

The Duterte administration has vowed to pursue an "independent foreign policy" that would reject any meddling by foreign governments, reiterating Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution which states: "The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination." In September 2016, Duterte said: "We will observe and must insist on the time-honored principle of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and the commitment of peaceful settlements of dispute that will serve our people and protect the interests of our country."[16]

Duterte made his first international trips as president to Vientiane, Laos and Jakarta, Indonesia on September 5–9, 2016.[105]

South China Sea

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in the Hague announced its ruling in favor of the Philippines in its case filed under the Benigno Aquino III administration in 2013 against China on issues regarding the South China Sea under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including the latter's nine-dash line claim which the tribunal ruled had no legal basis.[68] Three days after, during a testimonial dinner in San Juan, Duterte asked former President Fidel Ramos to lead the Philippine envoy to Beijing for bilateral negotiations with China over the disputes.[106] Ramos accepted the offer on July 23,[107] but resigned on October 31.[108] During his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, Duterte said that his administration "strongly affirms and respects" the ruling and would use it as a guide to negotiate for a resolution on the territorial disputes.[109] Duterte prefers to discuss the issue quietly and directly with China and has vowed not to raise the issue before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.[110][111] Duterte said "he would not want to antagonize China" and would want to "maintain good relations with China" to "create an environment where we sit down and talk directly."[111]

On October 12, Duterte declared his intention to terminate joint US–Philippine naval patrols in the South China Sea, which he believes could needlessly antagonize China.[112] His reticent approach with China contrasts with his otherwise "belligerent rhetoric and swaggering persona"; he has received support to some political ads from an anonymous Chinese donor.[113]

On October 20 in Beijing, Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume direct talks on the dispute.[114]

China and Russia

Following his inauguration as president, Duterte mentioned his willingness to "reorient" his foreign policy towards China and Russia, particularly in the areas of trade and commerce.[115] During an interview with Al Jazeera, he expressed his willingness to conduct joint military exercises with China and Russia.[116] In September, Duterte said that he is considering purchasing military equipment, particularly weaponries and armaments, from China and Russia to strengthen the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in addressing insurgency and counter-terrrorism, saying that deals between the Philippines and the two countries are already in discussion and that the Chinese and Russian governments have offered the Philippines soft loans that would be payable in 2025.[117]

Duterte handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the bilateral meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 20, 2016

On October 18–21, 2016, Duterte visited Beijing to meet with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. While announcing his "separation" from the United States in front of Chinese and Filipino businessmen at the Philippines–China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing on October 20, Duterte also said that he would realign himself with the Chinese ideological flow and that he might also travel to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin to "tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines, and Russia."[118][119]

Duterte meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016

On November 20, Duterte met with Putin during the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, Peru. Duterte has praised Putin's leadership skills and called him his "idol". Putin also invited Duterte to visit Moscow.[120][121]

During an interview with RT in November, Duterte said that the Philippines is "not ready" for military alliances with China and Russia due to the Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the Philippines and the U.S.; however, he clarified that the Philippines could seek stronger diplomatic cooperation with China and Russia, as well as other countries, "to make the world more peaceful."[122] Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev expounded on Duterte's statement by saying that the Russian government is offering a strategic partnership with the Philippines, not a military alliance, and added that Russia does not believe in establishing military alliances with Asia. However, Khovaev explained that the Russian government is opened to assisting the Philippines in purchasing Russian-made weaponry.[123]

United States

On September 12, 2016, Duterte said that he is "not a fan of the Americans" and wants to "reorient" foreign policy with the United States. He requested that U.S. forces in Mindanao should leave the Philippines, specifically those who are part of the Operation Enduring Freedom, saying that it would "inflame the situation with the Abu Sayyaf."[124][125] Duterte said on September 13 that he does not plan to cut ties with the United States, but wants to reiterate the administration's pursuit of an "independent foreign policy" in accordance with the Constitution; the administration will continue to honor mutual agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.[126] On September 20, Duterte said: "I never said get out of the Philippines, for after all, we need them there in the China Sea. We don't have armaments."[127][128]

Duterte with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, July 26, 2016

On September 27, Duterte vowed not to allow the U.S. government to interfere with the policies of his administration. He criticized the U.S. government for "lecturing" his administration on human rights amidst their campaign on illegal drugs and said that he will "cross the Rubicon with the U.S." Duterte added that he plans to forge "new alliances" with China and Russia in trade and commerce.[129] U.S. Department of State deputy spokesperson Mark Toner responded to Duterte's criticisms by saying that the Philippine–U.S. relations could still remain "strong and unabated" despite Duterte's criticisms.[130] The following day, while addressing the Filipino community in Hanoi, Duterte said that the Balikatan military exercises and the joint naval patrols in the South China Sea between the Philippines and the U.S. in October would be "its last" in order to avoid provoking conflict with China.[131][132]

On October 5, Duterte accused the U.S. of refusing to sell armaments to the Philippines and said that he would rather purchase armaments from China and Russia.[133] In an attempt to repair relations with the U.S., Duterte's Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said Duterte was "misinformed" about the U.S. alliance: "Maybe, the defense ministry and the armed forces were remiss in providing him the correct information."[134]

On October 20, while on a trip to Beijing, Duterte declared a "separation" from the United States – which he declared had lost militarily, socially, and economically – and a realignment of the Philippines to move closer to China.[135] During a press conference after arriving from Beijing, Duterte clarified that what he meant by "separation" was a "separation of a foreign policy" and not a severance of diplomatic ties, saying that it would not be feasible to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. due to the large number of Filipino Americans.[136] U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby responded by saying: "We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S.; it's not clear what that means and all its ramifications."[137] On October 23, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel traveled to Manila to seek clarification and explanation for Duterte's comments with Philippine officials, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.[138][139]

On November 7, Secretary Lorenzana clarified that the joint Balikatan exercises will continue along with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training amphibious landing exercises between the Philippine Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy would be discontinued. He specified that bilateral drills on counter-terrorism, humanitarian response, special operations, engineering projects, and civic action will remain, all of which have been approved by Duterte.[140]

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar offered "warm congratulations" to Donald Trump on his election victory. He said that Duterte "looks forward to working with the incoming administration for enhanced Philippines-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law."[141] While in Kuala Lumpur, Duterte personally congratulated Trump by greeting him "Mabuhay!" and expressed hope that the Trump administration would honor obligations and treaties signed between the Philippines and the U.S.[142] On December 2, Duterte called Trump to personally congratulate him once more and invited him to visit the Philippines for the East Asia Summit in 2017, while Trump invited Duterte to visit him in New York City and Washington, D.C. after the former's inauguration.[143]

Economic performance

Duterte's expletive-laden outbursts have triggered the biggest exodus from stocks in a year and made the peso Asia's worst performer in September 2016. The Philippine currency is at a seven-year low and rounding out its worst month since May 2010, after Duterte lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama and told off both the European Union and the United Nations for their criticisms of his violent anti-drug campaign, which has left more than 3,000 people dead. However, Duterte blames the U.S. for the currency's weakness, accusing it of "undermining" the Philippines by "manipulating" the exchange rate.[144] In the same month, the Philippine peso completed its biggest monthly decline since October 2000 amid the biggest outflow from the nation's stocks in a year.[145]

After 100 days in office, former president Ramos, a political ally-mentor of Duterte said that "Duterte has been a huge disappointment and letdown" and "the government was losing badly by prioritizing a war on drugs at the expense of issues like poverty, living costs, foreign investment and jobs".[146][147]

Duterte's verbal attacks especially to the US and EU is viewed by Filipinos as a threat to their jobs especially those working on foreign companies.[148] Mark Williams, chief of Asia economist at Capital Economics said that "Certainly, investors are worried by some of the things he's saying, he's really unnerved people".[149] The Philippine government however, expects that employment especially in BPO industries will continue to keep on rising.

Presidential immunity

On November 7 Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte's chief government critic, filed a Supreme Court writ of habeas data against Duterte, testing the doctrine of presidential immunity, claiming "The verbal attacks on petitioner's womanhood and threats on her person are not covered by presidential immunity from suit because they are not the official act of a President". The 20-page writ asked, "Can a sitting President wage a personal vendetta against petitioner and use the resources of his powerful office to crucify her as a woman, a human being, and a duly elected senator in violation of her right to privacy in life, liberty and security?"[150] De Lima's counsel, De La Salle University College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno, said "Immunity cannot be used to block this case. There is a blatant violation of the magna carta for women, code of conduct for public officials. We hope the Supreme Court will listen to the plea of Senator de Lima and give consideration to this petition because we believe it is of groundbreaking importance".[151]

Duterte had repeatedly criticized De Lima for an alleged adulterous affair with her driver, and her alleged "propensity for sex".[151] He said in August 2016 that she was an "immoral woman" who had no right to criticize the extrajudicial killings because she had "a very sordid personal and official life".[152] She was subsequently removed from her position chairing a Senate committee investigating the killings, and was then forced to leave her home out of fears for her safety.[153] The writ cited several cases of Duterte admitting that he wanted to drive her to suicide. De Lima demanded to know which foreign country had assisted Duterte in his surveillance of her private conversations, as he had claimed, and how it was carried out.[154][155]

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that "Senator Leila de Lima is apparently playing the gender card as a shield against mounting evidence of her ties with high-profile drug lords and the proliferation of drug trade in the Bilibid". Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that "the president is immune from suit but even if he is not, the petition has no basis in fact nor in law".[156]

Controversy and criticism

In early September 2015, an infamous incident was reported of a tourist being forced to swallow his own cigarette butt in a local bar in Davao City after the tourist refused to comply with the public anti-smoking ordinance of the city. Duterte was personally contacted by the bar owner and went into the bar and forced the tourist to swallow his cigarette butt. Duterte was then met with criticisms especially from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Referring to the arrest of a suspected rice smuggler, Duterte spoke out in the state senate saying, "If this guy would go to Davao and starts to unload (smuggled rice)… I will gladly kill him." For these comments, Duterte was attacked in an editorial in The Manila Times, which condemned "the mentality of lawlessness and vigilantism."[157] The newspaper argued that this culture of impunity enabled those in power, including officials, "private warlords and businessmen vigilantes" to take retribution against those they felt had acted against their interests: "They kill journalists exposing corruption and human rights activists exposing abusive police and military men."[157] Following Duterte's comments in relation to killing a person suspected of smuggling rice, the office of the President of the Philippines issued a statement saying, "Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods."[158]

In October 2016, the French newspaper Libération depicted Duterte as a “serial killer president,” pertaining to the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines. The newspaper report drew condemnation from the Filipino community in France. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a radio interview that the newspaper's tag on Duterte as a serial killer was "very unfair" and "irresponsible" while DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno describes to it as "too much" and noted the lack of understanding over the administration's war on drugs.[159][160][161]

International stage

In 1995, after Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino, was executed in Singapore after confessing to a double murder, Duterte, as Davao City mayor, allegedly burned a flag of Singapore (though this claim was later denied) and joined 1,000 employees of Davao City in protest.[162][163]

Internationally, Duterte is known as the "dirty mouth" president.[164] He had, however, promised to behave in a "prim and proper" manner on the national and international stage once he is inaugurated as President, to the point that, "almost, I would become holy."[165]

In July 2016, Duterte accused the United Kingdom and the United States of importing terrorism to the Middle East through its interventions, saying: "The U.S. destroyed the Middle East. ... Great Britain and the U.S. will not admit that they forced their way to Iraq and killed Saddam. Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria."[166][167]

In August 2016, Duterte was criticized after he made a homophobic comment (using a Tagalog language slur) about the US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, stating "As you know, I'm fighting with (US Secretary of State John Kerry's) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off. Duterte added: "He [Goldberg] meddled during the elections, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that." The U.S. State Department summoned the Filipino chargé d'affaires Patrick Chuasoto to discuss Duterte's comments.[168] Duterte refused to apologize.[169]

In the same month, United Nations human rights experts called for an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers, about 900 of whom had been executed since the May election, accusing Duterte of "incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law".[170] In response, Duterte threatened to leave the UN and form a separate organization with China and African nations. He announced in a news conference on August 19: "You now, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give you 10 [about you]. I tell you, you are an inutil ("useless" in Filipino street language.). Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killing [in Syria and Iraq]." Asked about possible repercussions, he stated: "What is ... repercussions? I don't give a shit to them." He said that the UN had acted against protocol: "You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country."[15]

In his speech at the Davao Airport, Duterte criticizes U.S. President Barack Obama for planning to discuss the Philippine Drug War.

At the 2016 ASEAN Summit, Duterte and U.S. President Barack Obama planned to meet with each other.[171] The United States said that President Obama planned to discuss the 2,400 Filipinos who died during Duterte's war or drugs.[171] Duterte criticized the planned topic of the meeting, saying, "I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people. You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum."[172] The United States canceled the meeting. During a press conference at the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit in China, President Obama discussed the cancellation of the meeting, saying: "I always want to make sure that if I'm having a meeting, that it's actually productive and we're getting something done."[173] Obama and Duterte later met informally.[174]

On September 30, 2016, Duterte appeared to compare himself with Adolf Hitler, saying: "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. ... I'd be happy to slaughter them."[175] His remarks drew international outrage particularly from the Jewish Communities. World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder condemned the statement,[176] as did the Anti-Defamation League.[177] Israel's Foreign Ministry also condemned his remarks.[178][179] Germany's government slammed Duterte's comments as unacceptable, and called in the Philippine ambassador to the Foreign Ministry over the matter.[180] On October 2 he apologized to the Jewish community.[181]

In September 2016, Duterte said that the United States has not even apologized to the Philippines for its atrocities during the Philippine–American War.[124] In October 2016, Duterte continued his tirade against the US and the European Union saying in Tagalog that "Mr. Obama, you can go to hell. EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is already full. Why should I be afraid of you?"[182]

Duterte's constant cursing had local officials worried that the Philippines would lose foreign aid from the United States and European Union. He responded that “If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it. We have a problem here trying to preserve our society" he said. The President continued that he would “be the first to go hungry. I will be the first one to die of hunger". Local actress Agot Isidro responded in Tagalog "First of all, no one's trying to fight you. As a matter of fact, you're the one who's picking a fight. Secondly, the country where you are elected as President by 16 million out of 100+ million is Third World. You talk as if the Philippines is a superpower. Excuse me, we don't want to go hungry. If you want, you do it yourself. Leave us out of it. So many people have nothing to eat, and yet you'll starve us even further".[183] Her sentiments were echoed by Senator Panfilo Lacson adding that "if the economy worsen, the entire Filipino people will be affected, they will go hungry as well".[184]

Former president Fidel Ramos on his resignation as special envoy to China stated that he did not like Duterte's treatment of US president Barack Obama and lambasted the administration on its refusal to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was later agreed by Duterte.[185][186][187]

During the 2016 APEC Summit in Peru, President Duterte skipped two major events due to jet lag. In a press conference at his office in Makati, Former president Ramos hit the absence of Duterte at the APEC gala dinner and the shoot for the leaders’ traditional family photo. Ramos said that while Duterte and his Cabinet may have thought that the two events are negligible, it could have disappointed the host country. “Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski must be very disappointed,” Ramos said. He said the gala night could have been an opportunity for Duterte to exchange ideas with world leaders and sickness is an unacceptable alibi to skip such an important gathering.[188]

Catholic Church

President Duterte talks with Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace, July 19, 2016.

Duterte has referred to the Catholic Church as "the most hypocritical institution", after the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas indirectly referred to Duterte as a "morally reprehensible" candidate who has shown "scant regard" for the rights of others and the teachings of the Church, urging Filipino Catholics to not vote for him.[189][190][191] Unlike many prominent conservative politicians,[192][193][194] Duterte has spoken in favor of birth control, LGBT rights, and reimposition of the death penalty which was abolished by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a devout Catholic, during her second term in 2006.[195][196][197] Upon being elected, Duterte called local bishops "sons of whores", and said he would expand family planning, which the Church had been opposed to. The Catholic Church in the Philippines had lost much of its popularity and political power since being active in overthrowing the Marcos regime in 1986. Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Duterte's attacks on the Church were likely to prove popular.[198]

Duterte was accused of having referred to Pope Francis as a "son of a whore"[198] during the pontiff's visit to the Philippines in January 2015 because it caused traffic congestion, though he immediately apologized publicly, explaining he wasn't using these words in regards to the Pope but rather the government's way of preparing the Pope's visit. On December 4, 2015, Duterte along with his executive assistant Bong Go, visited and talked with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Bishop George Rimando, together with Monsignor Paul Cuison to get lectured on Christian Values. Duterte committed to lessen his profanity in public gatherings and even assured that he would donate ₱1,000 to Caritas Davao every time he swears in public. He also stated that he will be planning to visit the Vatican at a later time.[199] Duterte however cancelled his planned trip and instead wrote a letter to Pope Francis dated January 21, 2016. During a campaign rally in Ubay, Bohol, Duterte's camp showed the letter coming from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, signed by Giovanni Angelo Becciu dated February 24, stating that Pope Francis had received his letter and that the Vatican appreciated Duterte's apology after allegedly cursing Pope Francis in public.[200]

On August 28, 2016, Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, acknowledged that people were right to be "worried about extrajudicial killing". He said that it was equivalent to abortion, "unfair labor practices", "wasting food" and selling illegal drugs, explaining that these are all "form[s] of murder". On August 31, in a speech before a gathering of a religious group in Davao City, Duterte said that he once considered being a priest: "It's good I didn't join the priesthood," said Duterte, "or else now I would be a homosexual."

Personal life

Duterte has openly "bragged about his Viagra-fuelled serial adultery",[201] drawing criticism from the GABRIELA Women's Party. Despite one of its representatives Luz Ilagan once stated that the people should focus on his track record and not on his womanizing ways, GABRIELA national chairperson Emmi de Jesus reiterated its stance against Duterte.[202]

Duterte has his own local show in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa ("From the Masses, For the Masses") aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao. He is also a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University.[203]

In addition to his native Cebuano, Duterte is also fluent in English and Tagalog.


Duterte has siblings named Eleanor Duterte; Benjamin "Bong" Duterte, a one-term city councilor of Davao between 1992 and 1995; younger sister Jocelyn Duterte, who lost in several attempts to grab a Third District city council seat as well as for the mayor post in 2001; and Don "Blue Boy" Duterte who ran and lost in the First District congressional race in 1998. Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in using profanity profusely live on-screen on numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand to abstain.[204][205]

Duterte's children (from L-R): Sebastian, Veronica, Sara and Paolo escort their father (center) to his inauguration ceremony, June 30, 2016
Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica

Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight attendant who hails from Davao City and is of German American descent who also traces her roots in Tuburan, Cebu. They together have three children (from eldest to youngest): Paolo ("Pulong"), Sara ("Inday Sara") and Sebastian ("Bastê"). Paolo and Sara ventured into politics while Baste, with no interest in politics, concentrated on business and surfing.[204] Paolo married twice, first with Lovelie Sangkola whom he had separated with, and second with January Navares-Duterte, his current wife.[206] Sara is currently married to a fellow lawyer while Baste has two kids: a daughter with a former girlfriend and a son with current girlfriend Kate Necesario.[207] In 2012, Duterte made a notorious remark in a media interview regarding an incident where Paolo's name was allegedly linked to a carnapping (portmanteau of car and kidnapping) syndicate led by Ryan Yu. Duterte is infamously quoted as having said: "Kill my son Paolo if he is involved in crime." Paolo was never charged for lack of evidence and eventually won the Davao City vice mayoralty in 2013.[208] Duterte's father Vicente died in 1968 while his mother Soledad died on February 4, 2012, at the age of 95.[209] Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015.[210]

Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering while married to Zimmerman and cited it as the reason for his failed first marriage when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never appeared in court and did not contest Zimmerman's petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, "Yes, [Rodrigo] is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it." In 2001, Zimmerman eventually ran for a seat on the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage was declared null and void. Zimmerman eventually joined the campaign trail for Duterte's presidential candidacy in early 2016 called Byaheng Du30 in which she would travel by bus to major cities together with her daughter Sara and a number of delegates.[210]

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica ("Kitty"). Duterte has eight grandchildren, half of whom are Muslims and the other half Christian.[211][212]


Rodrigo Duterte has identified himself as hailing from both Cebu and Leyte. His heritage includes Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Malaysian, as well as indigenous descent.

On his paternal side, he shares familial ties with some of the prominent families of the Visayas, particularly the Almendrases & Duranos of Danao, Cebu;[213] as well as shared ancestral descent from the Velosos of Cebu City.[214]

His maternal lineage is part-Chinese but mostly Moro of indigenous Maranao-Kamayo descent, with distant traces of Islamic royalty.[215]


Despite being raised as a communicant of the Catholic Church, on January 19, 2016, while meeting with businessmen in Binondo, Manila, Duterte clarified that he has not attended Mass for quite some time already since he deemed it incompatible with his mayoral responsibilities: "If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests" said Duterte, "I would not be able to do anything as a mayor". He then clarified that he still believes in God, but not in religion.[217] More recently, Duterte has referred to himself as Christian, but also said that "[he] believes in one god Allah".[190][218]


Duterte personally disclosed that he suffers from Buerger's disease, an inflammation of blood vessels mostly in the limbs that has been traced to previous habitual smoking, contrary to earlier rumors of throat cancer.[219]


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  213. 1 2 Brothers Facundo & Severo Duterte both married women from Danao; Severo's daughter Beatriz married post-War business magnate Ramon M. Durano, Sr. Their descendants constitute the modern-day political family of the Duranos of Danao, Cebu. Ramon M. Durano, Sr.'s sister Elisea married Paulo Almendras, and their descendants constitute the modern-day Almendrases of Cebu. One of their descendants, Jose Rene Almendras is a former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (acting).
  214. 1 2 The Velosos claim descent from Diego Veloso (a 16th-century Portugese explorer who was recorded to have stopped by the Philippines), who supposedly established a profitable business in the Philippines in the mid-1700's. Duterte's lineage is traced from Diego Veloso's great-great-grandson Eduardo Veloso who is the grandfather of Maximo Veloso.
  215. 1 2 The Roas of Leyte are one of the descendants of Rajah Moda Samporna (born c.1760), a warrior noble from the Sultanate of Balo i and Tagoloan. After a failed slave-raiding party against the local Bukidnon villages, Rajah Samporna and his people made a settlement in Kalambagohan (modern-day Cagayan de Oro) and married a daughter of the local datu (as well as 2 other women), siring 4 male children (2 of them from the legal wife). When Rajah Samporna's family were baptized into the Christian faith in 1779, they were given the surname Neri (from which the modern-day Neris of Cagayanon descend). Other descendants include the Pelaezes, Cabilis, Chavezes, Emanos, etc.
    According to Maguindanaoan tarsilas as well as Malaysian genealogy experts, Rajah Samporna's ancestor is believed to be Sharif Muhammad Kabungsuwan, a Muslim missionary of Arab-Malay ethnicity from Johore (his mother was the daughter of Sultan Iskandar Julkarnain of Malacca), who arrived in Mindanao around 1515 (landing near modern-day Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental) and introduced & preached Islam and settled down in Malabang; as well as becoming the first Sultan of Maguindanao. Accordingly, Rajah Samporna's lineage can then be traced to the bloodlines of Moriatao a Bai (Uato), Maruhom Baraguir (Maguindanao), & Mala Bayabao (Ditsaan Ramain).
    Thru Sharif Kabungsuwan's father Sharif 'Ali Zein ul-'Abidin from Hadhramout, accordingly he is the great-great-grandson of Fatima, daughter of Muhammad.
  216. 1 2 3 Maximo Veloso y Rojas del Rosario (Eduardo Veloso's grandson; married to Maria Paz Roxas and sired 9 children) had an affair with an unidentified female Duterte (who most likely hailed from Pari-an, Cebu City; her ancestors Bernardo Duterte & Dominga Guzman, who originally hailed from southern Cebu, married & lived in Cebu City in the 1790's) and brought forth their only son Isabelo. Even though Isabelo invariably used Veloso and Duterte as his surnames (and even Duterte y Veloso), his sons Facundo & Severo used Duterte (as attested by legal records); disproving some records saying Máximo eventually married the unindetified Duterte. In some records, her first name was recorded as Dionisia or Francisca; yet her exact name is still unclear.
  217. Romero, Alexis (May 20, 2016). "Duterte says he believes in God but not in religion". Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  218. Torres, Hazel (June 29, 2016). "Duterte vows to promote birth control in the Philippines, says he's a Christian but believes 'in one god Allah'". Christian Today. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  219. Frialde, Mike (December 10, 2015). "Duterte: I may not last 6 years in office". The Philippine Star. Retrieved December 17, 2015.

Further reading

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