Philippines’ Duterte scores record high rating, despite COVID-19 crisis

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval rating has hit a record high, an opinion poll showed on Monday, despite a stubborn coronavirus crisis that has ravaged the economy and caused millions of job losses.

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The Pulse Asia survey, conducted last month with in-person interviews with 1,200 adult Filipinos, found 91% of respondents approved of both his performance and his personality, up from 87% and 83% respectively in December.

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The Philippines, for years among the world’s fastest-growing economies, is forecast to see a 6.9% economic contraction this year, the World Bank has said, the biggest since the 1980s and worse than the government’s projected 5.5% decline.

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Ronnie Holmes, president of Pulse Asia, said during a television interview that the overwhelming thumbs-up for Duterte showed the public blamed the decline on the impact of COVID-19 rather than government mishandling.

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The survey was conducted in and around the capital Manila, where tight restrictions have been partly loosened to try to revive business activities.

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The Philippines leads Southeast Asia with the most number of cases https://tmsnrt.rs/3ngW4uH at 322,497 and is second to Indonesia in deaths.

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The firebrand leader has promised free vaccines, prioritising first the poor and then the middle class, police and military personnel.

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Duterte, 75, is allowed only a single term as president but the chance of his allies succeeding him will be bolstered significantly if his popularity remains intact ahead of the 2022 presidential election.

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While his opponents chide him for his authoritarian style and low tolerance of dissent, Duterte remains hugely popular because of his man-of-the-people style and a perception of strong leadership and success in fighting crime and corruption.

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