Six months before Donald Trump transformed US politics as we know it, Rodrigo Duterte did the same in the Philippines. The tough-talking ex-lawyer and mayor ran on a law-and-order platform, larding his speeches with obscenities and threats to kill drug dealers; at one point he promised that so many bodies would be dumped into Manila Bay that the "fish would grow fat" from feeding on them. In a region where tact and decorum are prized, this was a very un-Asian type of politician. Although heir to one of the country’s oldest political families, Duterte painted himself as an outsider, sprinting to the front of a field of weak candidates. He ran on his record in bringing down crime in the southern city of Davao, and capitalised on popular discontent with "Imperial Manila", the disdainful term Filipinos use for their dynastic political and business elites. Before Trump did, Duterte’s campaign harnessed the power of online bloggers, "trolls" and fake news spread over Facebook, an unusuall...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.