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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, May 24, 2017.   © Reuters

Duterte's popularity on the line in southern Philippine conflict

Drawn-out conflict and slow rehabilitation would hurt implementation of policy agenda

| Philippines
  • An end to President Rodrigo Duterte's offensive against Islamist extremists in the southern Philippine state of Mindanao does not seem imminent more than a month into the conflict. A drawn-out war would erode support for the president.
  • The country's record does not breed confidence that economic reconstruction will be swift - and a slow and inefficient recovery would be damaging to Mr Duterte's popularity, as it was for his predecessor Benigno Aquino following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
  • Though the immediate economic impact has been limited, a lengthy conflict would set back attempts to promote "inclusive growth", and weaker support for Mr Duterte would probably hinder the implementation of his policy agenda, including his planned shift to a more federalised system.

The insurgency in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, led by local Isis-linked terrorist group Maute, has rumbled on for just over a month. Nearly 400 people have been killed, including 71 state troops and 27 civilians, while thousands have been displaced.

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