Politics

Duterte Is the Most Influential Person in the World, Says TIME Magazine

But is he a good influence?
IMAGE Jason Quibilan
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Every year TIME Magazine’s readers vote for who they believe to be the most influential people in the world, choosing from a list of personalities who have made an impact on culture and politics.

In 2016, U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders topped the list, while the year before that it was Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Both men helped shape the global conversation in the year they won the poll.

In 2017, our own president tops the list, and it’s a decisive victory (once again). Claiming 5% of the total vote, he ranks well ahead of all other global political leaders, even though there are arguably politicians on this list who, whether positive or negative, have done more to define the topics people care about the most.

Of course, for a poll of this nature, you need to first mention Donald Trump, likely the most controversial person on this list. Trump, however, only received 2% of the vote, as much as Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel.

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Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, a charming beacon of hope, came in second with 3% of the vote, while Mexican President Nieto, notable for resisting Trump’s wall-building efforts, received 1% of the vote.


So, how come President Duterte won? Is he actually the most influential person on this list? Well, the Philippines’ war on drugs certainly has been highly visible in the international media. Initially, there were Duterte’s highly entertaining and widely covered insults to foreign leaders. Subsequently, there was a wave of what has been labelled as 'extrajudicial killings' which were condemned by virtually all human rights organizations (and disputed by pro-administration factions).

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With the death toll continuing to rise, Op-Eds in the New York Times, regular coverage in The Guardian, and documentaries on National Geographic and other channels keep on reminding an international audience that there’s a drug war going on in the Philippines. A war which is, by the way, less than a year old. Hard to believe, right?

Congratulations should be in order, especially since the day after topping the TIME Magazine 100 List, the University of the Philippines offered him a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, degree. This most recent recognition, however, is causing an uproar online. Social media—students from the University of the Philippines, especially—are protesting the honorary degree with unified status posts and hashtags like #DuterteNotWorthy and #NoDegreeForDuterte. 

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Christopher Puhm
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