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Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, High-flying Candidates of the Same Feather

Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte

wo countries, two elections, two candidates. But for many who have been following both the Philippine and United States elections, these two presidential contenders, one American—one Filipino, appear to have uncanny similarities.

In the U.S., real estate tycoon Donald Trump has been defying conventional Republican Party (GOP) wisdom with his significant lead over his two other rivals for the party's nomination. To the great consternation of GOP bigwigs, Trump's seemingly insurmountable lead almost guarantees him the party's nomination in mid-July. Trump's brash remarks towards, Mexicans, women, Moslems, and minorities, as well as his many unconventional ideas about how to run the country seems to only bolster his lead rather than weaken it.

Halfway across the globe, in the Philippines, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has likewise been leading in the polls despite the numerous crude and insensitive remarks he has been making. He has alleged ties to vigilante groups that operate in Davao City where he has served as mayor for over two decades. Like Trump, Duterte rarely takes a nuanced approach to issues, preferring instead to project a shoot-from-the-hip, tough guy approach.

Both Trump and Duterte are loose cannons who may likely do more harm than good for their respective constituencies. While one can certainly understand the frustration of their many supporters who want to  lash out at a system that delivers little or no improvement to their lives, there is also the danger that Trump and Duterte could make matters worse.

The stakes seem to be higher for the U.S., it being the leader of the free world and a nuclear superpower. But for Filipinos, those stakes appear high as well. After many decades of mismanagement from presidents who were either incompetent or downright corrupt, the Philippines has finally managed to claw its  way out of the hole that leaders like Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo dug for the country. Today, the Philippines' GDP is the envy of most of its neighbors. The country can ill-afford to have an erratic, hot-head in Malacañang creating more problems instead of solving them.

For the followers of Trump and Duterte, it appears more attractive and exiting to shoot for radical and sweeping change. Throw out all the bums! And put an outsider in charge. To them we say, we hope you're right, just as the saying "be careful what you wish for," comes to mind. Published 5/1/2016

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