Not all of Rodrigo Duterte's policies winning support

Filipino students and representatives from various organisations releasing 100 doves yesterday to mark President Duterte's first 100 days in office.
Filipino students and representatives from various organisations releasing 100 doves yesterday to mark President Duterte's first 100 days in office.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Despite the rising body count and condemnations from abroad, President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has overwhelming public approval. But not so in other areas.

CRIME

More than 3,500 drug suspects have been killed since Mr Duterte took office on June 30. Nearly 23,000 have been arrested and some 735,000 have surrendered. Police say the crime rate has fallen by half, and many people say they feel safer now.

THE ECONOMY

The World Bank forecasts growth of 6.4 per cent for the Philippines this year, and 6.2 per cent next year.

However, Mr Duterte's unrestrained rants and volatile temper are stirring concerns about political instability, which are spilling over to the economy.

The key stock index has fallen 2.3 per cent since June 30, while the peso fell to a seven-year low against the US dollar at 48.26 last week.

Economists say macroeconomic fundamentals remain strong, and that the headwinds are coming not only from Mr Duterte, but also from weaknesses in global markets.

Also, the President's plan to lower the income tax rate and offer amnesty to tax evaders, a key plank of his 10-point economic agenda, has hit a snag as lawmakers line up against it.

FOREIGN POLICY

Mr Duterte's debut on the international stage has been controversial.

He has lashed out at the European Union and the United Nations for criticising his anti-drug drive.

He has threatened to eject United States troops from the country, end joint military exercises and patrols with the US in the South China Sea, and scrap a 2014 defence pact.

In contrast, he has lavished praise on China, and even Russia, as he pivots towards these US rivals.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

His negotiators have managed to broker peace with communist and Muslim rebels and revisit a proposed law that will create an autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines.

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Not all policies winning support'. Print Edition | Subscribe