A United Arab Emirates-based newspaper has cited President Duterte as the world’s most popular leader, noting various surveys by independent polling agencies showing his high trust and approval ratings since he assumed office. In an October 27 listicle, UAE-based Gulf News enumerated the reasons why the Filipino chief executive is the “world’s most popular leader”.
Gulf News editors Jay Hilotin and Christian Borbon said despite pandemic woes when people are facing hunger due to COVID-19, “Filipinos have kept faith in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, whose popularity has gone through the roof this year.”
Duterte scored a record 91 percent trust rating in a survey by Pulse Asia, among the Philippines’ most authoritative and independent polling firm, from September 14 to 20.
The Gulf News article said Duterte remains popular amid the global health crisis, saying his record approval rating is the highest so far, perhaps the highest for any leader in the world as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating was 60 percent in July 2020, according to the Levada Center.
“It was the first major poll on Duterte conducted in the wake of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. The results stunned his critics and analysts. For his supporters, it was an affirmation that Duterte is the only leader able to steer the country in these difficult times,” the authors wrote.
The Pulse Asia poll results also stumped his critics. And for Gulf News, this underlined Duterte’s “unshakable popularity.”
“It also reflects the resilience of a generation of leaders seen as populists, such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – who have maintained high levels of public support despite criticisms of their responses to the pandemic,” they said.
Gulf News, however, noted that the pandemic’s effect on Manila may have also been a factor since, in recent months, the country has been at the regional epicenter of the health crisis, at one point posting a daily record of more than 6,700 new infections on August 10 and a 376,935 confirmed cases as of October 29.
While the Philippine economy is expected to contract by 7.3 percent this year, the projection also “did not make a dent in Duterte’s approval ratings, which by some measures, is currently the highest worldwide.”
The UAE-based daily added that Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program also contributed to his popularity since the program was seen as an “antidote to years of neglect of infrastructure.”
Duterte was inaugurated in 2016, with his term as the Philippine president set to conclude in June 2022.