MANILA -- Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking front-runner in the Philippine presidential election on May 9, looked round the gilded chamber in the Manila Peninsula where 400 of the country's top business people had come to see him, and said: "Relax. I am not the man I am portrayed to be by some."
An amused ripple went through the audience mostly dressed in business suits or crisp white traditional barongs. The encounter had been set for high noon, but started at half past the hour. Duterte's listeners included some of the most powerful corporate figures in the Philippines, including Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Corp., and Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Metro Pacific Investments and Philippine Long Distance Telephone.