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Politics

Malcolm Cook -- Estrada redux?

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines' next president

The successful election campaign and this week's inauguration of Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte as the next president of the Philippines has gained widespread international attention, with the media drawing parallels with controversial politicians elsewhere. Donald Trump, another colorful, anti-establishment figure who seems set to win the U.S. Republican Party's presidential nomination, is easily the most common comparison. More thoughtful and supportive coverage has drawn parallels with the former "simple living" president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica.

Yet, the most persuasive and portentous parallels to help us understand Duterte's pending presidency are much closer to home. The political origins, popularity, and present political position of Duterte have much in common with Joseph "Erap" Estrada's 1998 presidential victory. Hopefully, this parallel will not extend to the ignominious end of that administration. Estrada's six-year term was curtailed in 2001 by the first-ever impeachment vote in the House of Representatives. The move triggered demonstrations reminiscent of People's Power protests in 1986, the withdrawal of support by the head of the Philippine military, and a constitutionally questionable Supreme Court ruling.

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