MANILA – He could walk into an empty football field and it would soon be filled to the rafters. This is the charisma that President Rodrigo Duterte exudes. For his people, he has earned a “rock star” status prompting flocks – if not, hordes – of people to gather and crowd his airspace. Filipinos consider him a folk hero, father, savior and much more.
President Duterte may be the only Chief Executive who gets cheered and applauded for merely passing through a city street, a basketball arena, or a hotel lobby. For most people, the mere idea that they pass through the street where the President lives or has a meal already sends shivers up their spines.
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vientiane, Lao PDR, Duterte’s rock star status has virtually rubbed off on our ASEAN neighbors. A few of the delegates actually took selfies with PRRD as he passed the hallways or whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Presidential Spokesperson Abella explained, “The tone of conversation between the nations seems to indicate that they recognize his influence, they recognize his political will, they recognize his firmness, they recognize his resolve. For example, to address drugs, the flow of illegal drugs. In fact, the Prime Minister of Singapore asked how he was dealing with it considering the fact that the Philippines has no death penalty.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar added, “President Duterte is a rock star not only in our country but also in other countries like Laos, Japan, and now the other Foreign Ministers and delegates have scrambled to get a selfie with our President. You have a President of the Republic who can stand and deliver.”