MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s satisfaction rating has hit a personal record-high one year after he took office despite persistent criticisms over his autocratic style of leadership, a survey showed Friday.
Duterte has also been widely chastised by human rights groups and several foreign governments for his campaign against illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead in police operations and alleged vigilante killings in the past year.
Despite the rough year, 78 percent of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed nationwide on June 23-26 expressed satisfaction with Duterte’s performance, according to opinion pollsters Social Weather Stations.
The rating was up from 75 percent in March, the polling agency said. Twelve percent were dissatisfied, while 10 percent were undecided, it added.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the continued upward trend of Duterte’s satisfaction rating was “a clear indication of the growing confidence in the chief executive and his performance as the country’s leader.”
Abella noted that the survey was conducted one month after Duterte declared martial law over the southern region of Mindanao to quash a siege by hundreds of Islamist militants on Marawi City, 800 kilometres south of Manila.
“It shows tacit public support to the president’s action following the rebellion in Marawi,” he added.
‘I don’t talk to terrorists’
The results came as Duterte denied claims he tried to make a deal with Islamic State-inspired terrorists in the days after they laid siege to Marawi City.
Duterte also dismissed as a “pretender” Marawi community leader Agakhan Sharief, who told the news organization Reuters on Wednesday that days after the terrorists seized the city, a senior aide to the president approached him and asked him to use his connections with the terrorists’ leaders to start back-channel talks.
“No, I did not. He’s a pretender. I never talk to terrorists. That’s one. I will never talk to criminals and to terrorists but I would talk to revolutionaries who are imbued with principle like the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) or the (Moro National Liberation Front),” Duterte told reporters in Malaybalay, Bukidnon province.
He said the MILF and the MNLF might have initiated back-channel talks to resolve the crisis in Marawi, but it was “impossible” for him to do that.
“And many of my soldiers have died, including policemen. Do not kid me that we will talk,” Duterte said.
“If there has to be peace, it would really be peace. Do not play with me that we fight today and then tomorrow … Let us finish this once and for all,” he said.
Reuters reported Sharief as saying Duterte aborted the plan for back-channel talks without an explanation.