President Rodrigo Duterte and detained Sen. Leila de Lima’s inclusion in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People 2017 list is part of the classic retelling of the “good versus bad” narrative, analysts said Monday.
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Duterte made it to the ‘Leaders’ category while De Lima was recognized in the ‘Icons’ category for being the former’s most vocal critic.
According to De La Salle University International Studies Prof. Renato de Castro, the inclusion of the two officials serves as a challenge for the country’s democracy.
“It’s a challenge for Philippine democracy. You have the strongman character, President Duterte, being challenged by the senator. It’s a classic looking back to the 80s, you had President Marcos being challenged by Sen. [Benigno] Aquino,” he said on ANC’s “Talkback.”
Meanwhile, Institute for Strategic and International Studies former president, Prof. Jun Salipsip, thinks TIME magazine is only balancing their presentation of Philippine leaders.
“I think they’re just trying to balance it. Here’s one strongman and here’s somebody objecting so for every action, there’s an opposite reaction… So, I think their presenting Sen. De Lima as someone who is providing some kind of balance to a strong president,” he said.
Salipsip added that despite the negative image that accompanies President Duterte’s image in the global stage, the firebrand leader’s popularity has made Manila more prominent.
“We have leaders who have risen as a result of the frustration of the people. The popularity of Duterte has made the Philippines a little more popular,” he said.
Salipsip criticized the write-ups on both Duterte and De Lima as both biased.
Duterte’s write-up was written by former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, whom the Philippine president previously called an ‘idiot’ for being critical of his campaign against drugs.
De Lima’s article, on the other hand, was written by former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who cited the senator for speaking out against the president even behind bars.
“I think it’s very one-sided that they only focused on the drug [war],” he said, referring to the article on Duterte.
De Castro, however, said the reason why Duterte has gained prominence in the first place is because of his anti-narcotics campaign.
“I think that’s basically the image he projected, the focus on drugs, anti-crime. He won the elections primarily because he focused on one issue—drugs,” De Castro said.
Both analysts though believe that the inclusion of both Duterte and De Lima in the most influential list can be seen in a positive light.
“It’s a badge of honor because nobody’s perfect. Duterte and De Lima got their own strengths also and I think it’s being highlighted in the report,” Salipsip said.
“I think it’s a badge of honor for our democracy that you have this strongman and, of course, you always have this balancer or challenger,” De Castro said.