Brash-Talking 'Trump of the East' Poised to Become President of Philippines

PHOTO: Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures at photographers to move out prior to voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School at Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines, May 9, 2016.Bullit Marquez/AP Photo
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures at photographers to move out prior to voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School at Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines, May 9, 2016.

A brash-talking mayor known as the "Trump of the East" is poised to become the new president of the Philippines, as early unofficial vote tallies forecast him winning the Filipino elections.

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines, is known for his brash -— and often offensive -- statements and strongman personality, which have led to comparisons with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. But some of Duterte's comments go far beyond the rhetoric of Trump in his current campaign.

Duterte has previously made jokes about sex and rape, including comments about his "Viagra-fueled sexual escapades," as The Associated Press put it. At a recent mass wedding, Duterte offered to give himself to the brides as a wedding gift, saying, "I don't have money to give, but I could give your wives something else -- and this is for the wives only. Men, I'm sorry but you don't get anything because I'm not a q---r."

Even more outrageously, last month, Duterte, a 71-year-old former prosecutor, said he should have been first in line to gang-rape an Australian missionary who was raped and murdered during a prison break in Davao in 1989.

"I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing ... but she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste," he said at a campaign stop.

The statement received a harsh rebuke from the Australian ambassador to the Philippines.

Duterte initially gained popularity for his pledges to root out corruption and poverty in the Philippines, including hard stances against drugs and crime. During his 22 years as mayor of Davao City, Duterte was known for being tough on crime, and he evoked that reputation frequently on the campaign trail. Duterte made bold pledges to end crime in the country within six months and to kill criminals. That hardline approach has evidently resonated in the Philippines, a country that has struggled with crime and anti-government insurgency in recent years.

But Duterte’s brash tack against crime has a dark side. He has been accused of sanctioning extrajudicial death squads in Davao City. Although he denied ordering extrajudicial killings, he did once tell an interviewer on national television that he had himself killed "around three people."

And just this weekend, Duterte said that he would "kill" people who are into drugs: "All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," Duterte said at a campaign stop. "I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots."

Many of Duterte's rivals have warned voters that electing him could erode democracy and the rule of law in the country, giving a mandate to his strongman style of government.

But despite those warnings -- and some of Duterte's own statements -- Filipino voters appear to favor Duterte’s hardline approach to solving the country's ills. Early results show Duterte leading his nearest opponent in the presidential race by almost 6 million votes, 14.4 million to 8.6 million, according to the AP. The final tally is expected to be made official on Tuesday.