MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's popularity has soared during his first three months in office, an independent survey showed yesterday, in an apparent endorsement by Filipinos of his crackdown on crime.
The unprecedented purge has left more than 3,000 people dead and raised fears of mass extrajudicial killings, triggering global condemnation from defence ally the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.
But 76 per cent of Filipinos polled by Social Weather Stations said they were satisfied with Mr Duterte's performance, with just 11 per cent reporting being dissatisfied and the rest undecided.
"The President seems to be off on a very good start," his spokesman, Mr Ernesto Abella, told reporters as he assessed the survey. "The people trust what he is doing."
The Manila-based polling group surveyed 1,200 adults nationwide from Sept 24 to 27, asking them simply about Mr Duterte's performance as President without reference to the war on drugs.
It signalled a huge jump in support from the May elections, which he won in what was considered a landslide but still with just 37.6 per cent of the votes. His nearest rival secured 22.6 per cent.
According to BusinessWorld, which published the survey, only one other president has enjoyed higher popularity ratings three months into his presidency since democracy was restored in 1986 after the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. That president was Mr Fidel Ramos, who ruled from 1992 to 1998 and is now one of Mr Duterte's chief allies.
Under the Constitution that was rewritten post-Marcos, presidents are allowed to serve only a single term of six years.
Mr Duterte, a provincial politician, stormed to victory largely on his pledge to eradicate crime in six months. Since taking office on June 30, he has continued his threats and incitements to kill, while unleashing abusive tirades at his critics.
US President Barack Obama has urged him to respect the rule of law and fight crime "the right way". While verbally abusing Mr Obama, Mr Duterte has complained about a lack of respect from his US counterpart and said he now wants to forge closer ties with China and Russia.
"Even if we do not agree with their ideology, they have respect for the people. Respect is important," said Mr Duterte on Tuesday.
His Foreign Secretary, Mr Perfecto Yasay, maintained the rage yesterday with the release of a statement headlined "America has failed us".
"The United States held on to invisible chains that reined us in towards dependency and submission as little brown brothers not capable of true independence and freedom," said Mr Yasay.