Depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting, 2016 will go down in history as the year two countries, the United States and the Philippines, either rejoiced or gnashed their teeth in misery. For that was the year Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte were voted as presidents—by far, the most controversial and divisive leaders ever to have emerged out of their respective countries.
The similarities between Trump and Duterte were so pronounced that a lot of people referred to Trump as the American Duterte and Duterte as the Filipino Trump. For one, at the time of their election, both men have become the oldest presidents of their countries, Duterte at 71, Trump at 70. For another, both have used obscene language in public, boasted about their sexual performance, and offended feminists and non-feminists alike with their underhanded references to assaulting women.
And that was just during the campaign period. Once they got elected into office, when some hoped that they would become more “presidentiable,” the two actually upped the ante when it comes to being controversial. Trump and Duterte started painting much of the press as the enemy of the state, undermining the judiciary’s legitimacy, branding opponents as corrupt, and even insulting Pope Francis.
When it comes to bombast and following through with it, Duterte may have one over Trump, as he made good on his campaign promise of ridding the Philippines of drug addicts and dealers. So far, more than 8,000 Filipinos have died because of his “war on drugs.” Trump, on the other hand, was quoted as saying he could shoot somebody and not lose a voters. Thankfully he has yet to act on that claim although he did lose the popular vote.
With each one aware of each other’s reputation, it wasn’t surprising that a bromance would develop, with Trump calling Duterte on the phone to extend an invitation to the White House, and to tell the Philippine president that he is “doing a great job” with regard to his drugs campaign. For his part, Duterte called Trump “a realist (and) a pragmatic thinker, although he has yet to accept the invitation. This is a far cry from Duterte’s treatment of Barack Obama whom he called a “son of a whore.” Trump, of course, branded his predecessor a “threat to our country” and “founder of ISIS” on top of questioning the former US president’s American birth.
Now, if and when these two men who share similar style that they can be called brothers from another mother actually meet face to face, can we expect a prolonged handshake, a bear hug, or a beso beso (social kiss)?
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