Government News Analysis

Man of influence

On Thursday, Time magazine will release the official results of its 2017 Time 100 poll – an annual listing of today’s most influential people. And Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to top it; to be named the world’s most influential leader of the year.

While like most polls this one is absurdly unscholarly – according to the survey from which Time editors will make their winner selections, British actress and Harry Potter star, Emma Watson is as influential as US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – one thing it did get right is that Duterte is undoubtedly one of today’s most powerful and influential statesmen.

Time 100 is not about popularity; it’s about men and women whose power and position can shape world events, move opinion, make a difference; men and women whose words and actions have the greatest influence. These are people being recognised for changing the world.

Ironically, Time has carried as much fact-starved anti-Duterte coverage as any in the Liberal-led mainstream media. It’s at the vanguard of publications that question Duterte’s fitness to lead his nation. But even this once-over-lightly Liberal American news weekly – its managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, is a sycophant of former US president Barack Obama – cannot deny that the man they’ve regularly depicted as a killer of his own people is currently one of the most powerful figures on the world stage.

We won’t go into the Time 100 survey which, at best, is a contrivance of who gets the most Like and Dislike hits on a list produced by Time itself. There’s nothing scientific about it; no analysis to support the nominations; they’re simply arbitrarily made by “Time alumni” and the magazine’s international correspondents.

And, of course, survey voters in many instances will select the person they want to be seen as the world’s most influential leader. In this year’s survey, for example, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is voted in as the second most influential person on the planet – more influential than the leaders of America and Russia. On that we rest our case.

Leaving all that aside, though, there’s no question that Duterte is currently one of the world’s most influential statesmen. For although the Philippines might be small in terms of the size of its economy – it’s 60 times smaller than the US; 37 times less than China – the region in which it sits is hugely important geopolitically and Duterte’s influence in that region is considerable. And it’s growing.

The fact is – like it or not – the man Time likes to remind its readers is known as “The Punisher” has more influence over world affairs than any president of the Philippine Republic ever has had. Take a look.

China, the world’s third largest economy is eager to further consolidate Sino-Philippine ties. Relations between these two countries had never amounted to very much before Duterte came along; indeed, under his predecessor, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, all relations – from diplomatic to trade – had been effectively mothballed. Now Beijing and Manila are involved in “brotherly” ties in which the sky seems to be the limit.

Whether its trade and investment, people-to-people and technology exchanges or strengthening defence and security, everything is on the table and being discussed. There has never been a time in Sino-Philippine relations quite like this. Xi Jinping refers to the two nations as “neighbours across the sea whose people are brothers linked by blood”.

Japan, the world’s fourth largest economy, has had more leader-to-leader and ministerial-level meetings with the Philippines in the first nine months of Duterte’s presidency than happened in the first year of any of his predecessors.

Manila-Tokyo ties have never been more important to Japan than they are right now and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is extending trade and investment and security-cooperation deals to the Philippines like there’s no tomorrow. Japanese investment in the Philippines is at an all-time high. In January, Abe became the first foreign leader to visit Duterte’s home in Davao City, Mindanao – a hugely symbolic gesture or respect.

Russia, which in the past was on little more than a nodding acquaintance with the Philippines is now aggressively courting it, offering deals on everything from investment, trade – not least opening its vast markets to Filipino agricultural products – to arms sales and security assistance. Moscow is extending the hand of friendship to the Philippines like no time in its history.

Putin spent 45 minutes chatting to Duterte on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Peru last November – again, a hugely symbolic event. Since then contacts between the two countries’ foreign ministries have been stepped up in preparation for Duterte’s state visit to Moscow next month.

These three powerful world leaders – Xi, Abe and Putin – who in turn have gone out of their way to form close personal relationships with Duterte, are in no doubt about just how important the Philippines is at this time under his leadership.

Meanwhile, the heads of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – the 10-state regional grouping of which the Philippines was a founding member – not only seeks to further harness economic integration with the Philippines through new trade and investment commitments, they’re fully supportive of Duterte’s efforts to clean-up the Philippines while leaders in parts of the West continually denigrate him.

Asean’s leaders have effectively circled the wagons where criticism of the Philippine president is concerned. None of them has been drawn into the war of words largely inspired by the previous Obama White House which then passed the baton to the European Union (EU). They’re fully behind Duterte’s domestic policies – whether it’s his War on Drugs or his desire to re-implement the death penalty – as well as his restructuring of Philippine foreign policy. None of them underestimate Duterte’s ability to reshape the region’s geopolitics through his sweep of bilateral negotiations with the big nations to the east.

In short, the Philippines sphere of influence in East and Southeast Asia is considerable under Duterte – far greater than it has ever been. Indeed, in the past, Filipino foreign-policy decisions relating to that region were effectively prompted by Washington under the guise of the US-Philippines “special relationship”.

For its part, meanwhile, the EU has no single leader that can match Duterte’s global stature. Few in Asia will have even heard of Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament. They may have heard of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission and they’ll know Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. But their influence in any meaningful measure is restricted to Europe; it has little standing in East and Southeast Asia. They have very faint ability to shape affairs in this region.

And while the Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbull, has political clout regionally – not least via his relations with Indonesia – Canada’s Trudeau has practically none.

In short then, the Philippines sphere of influence in East and Southeast Asia is considerable under Duterte – far greater than at any time in its history.

And so in reality, it doesn’t matter whether Time decides if Duterte’s the number one or number 100 most influential global leader, the fact is he’s certainly near the top.

East and Southeast Asia in terms of trade is the most dynamic region of the world; it’s been the fastest growing for decades. That’s why Obama wanted to establish his now-failed multi-nation Trans Pacific Partnership trade grouping there. It’s why he wanted to “pivot to East Asia”.

But if all that’s not enough proof of Duterte’s powerful presence on the world stage, the way that he’s been consistently vilified by certain Western leaders and the swathe of mainstream media that serves them, should tell anyone that they fear his influence.

There are some really bad leaders elsewhere in the world – men who truly do persecute their people – but these are men from small nations often in remote regions. They will never be in a position of global influence and so those same Western leaders and media organisations that go after Duterte like a hyena pack largely leave them alone. They’re no threat to the Western-led, One-World Order which the global Liberal alliance seeks to establish. Duterte is, and that’s the point.

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  • This is a heavenly vindication for PDU30! Mauled and maliced by the mainstream media here and abroad thru their lie,defame and destroy tactic, Digong emerged as the moral winner.

  • The president alredi s transforming philippine politics..he s indeed transforming east-asia’s geopolitics thru his independent foreign policy..that fact itself s making a great impact alredi…

  • The oligarchs and big mainstream media dont like him because of the possibility that he can ignite and inspire poor corrupt countries to do the same as us. They do not want him to succeed for precisely this reason this is why they are doing everything to bring him down. He is bad for worldwide oligarch business and could possibly land them in jail for all the shit they have done. Pduts is an unwitting global crusader. Just my ponderings . Dutertards also have a hand in this if he succeeds. Kung wala sila, indi rin makakalaban si pduts.

    Want a chance at actually doing something good for the world? Fight for this man.

  • PRRD won the Time 100 readers’ poll of 2017.

    The TIME 100 is the annual list of the most influential – not necessarily most powerful – people in the world. The annual gala for 2014 was held in New York City. Managing editor of Time, Nancy Gibbs, says of the year’s list:

    “The Time 100 is a list of the world’s most influential men and women, not its most powerful, though those are not mutually exclusive terms. Power, as we’ve seen this year, can be crude and implacable, from Vladimir Putin’s mugging of Crimea to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s summary execution of his uncle and mentor Jang Song Thaek. Those men made our list, but they are the outliers, and not just because we generally seek to celebrate the best work of the human spirit. The vast majority of this year’s roster reveals that while power is certain, influence is subtle. Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip. You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, Dwight Eisenhower used to say. That’s “assault, not leadership.”

    Anti-Duterte group labels PRRD as a power hungry president who do not hesitate to use brute force to get results, short of admitting that PRRD succeeds in most of his projects and programs. Indeed, legal authority and power are already granted to PRRD upon his assumption of the presidency. But how to employ power to achieve the desired results needs influence and leadership skills. And PRRD has a surfeit of subtlety, influence and leadership honed by 10 years of experience as trial prosecutor and 23 years as mayor of Davao City – formerly a war zone but now a safe, peaceful and progressive community.

    Through subtle means PRRD influences not only his people and country but also the world in general and Asia in particular. His successful forays in China, the Middle East and ASEAN countries and his strategic handling of US, Russia and EU proved his mettle. And Time 100 clearly documents such achievement of PRRD. Indeed on October 31, 2016, before his visit to China on November 19, I posted the following:

    “PRRD is now establishing, wittingly or unwittingly, a template for East Asia, including Russia which is geographically 77% Asian. Malaysia and Thailand now join the Philippines in cultivating a closer relationship with China. Hopefully, other east asians like Japan, South Korea and Indonesia would follow. I think that Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are ahead of us already in having good relations with China. Of course, North Korea is sui generis in regard to its relation to China and Russia vis-a-vis the US.”

  • As I always say, Duterte is a God-anointed President! No human being or organization, be it an international one, can ever put him down or remove him from power! God bless the rising Philippines under his governance!

  • Whilst the world has been annihilated & overwhelmed with stereotyped,superficial,hypocritical,nihilistic,anarchistic,reptilian forces & pretense,we have the volatilian to help us see more accurately thru the looking glass.More power!

  • … i am not expecting TIME will write all the good things our President Mayor is doing for the country… he is not perfect and uncouth with words… what i’m asking is for TIME to be fair and not depict him as a murderer like his destabilizers are saying… we Filipinos know him better than anybody else… the opponents want to pull him down because they are the ones who are afraid because their influence is no longer working… they tried to besmirch his name abroad with the hope it will topple him down but the Filipinos are not budging in to that trap… we see how he works… we feel his love for the country and its next generations… some tried to make things complicated when what is needed is to introspect that we are all Filipinos and dignity should come in first.