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Rodrigo Duterte Will Not Go Gently

The Philippine President Prepares to Outlive His Term

An effigy of Duterte in Manila, Philippines, September 2017 Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

President Rodrigo Duterte is on a roll. In the Philippines, where reelection is banned, most presidents become lame ducks halfway into their six-year terms. But four years into his presidency, Duterte remains at the top of his game, impervious to blistering criticism of his autocratic tendencies and his bloody war on drugs, which has killed at least 6,000 suspected drug users and sellers. A December poll shows his popularity at 87 percent, surpassing that of every Philippine president since competitive elections were reintroduced in the 1980s, after the 20-year reign of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The president’s opponents hope that “Dutertismo” will fade away in 2022, when his term ends. But they should not assume that Duterte will quietly leave office like his predecessors. Buoyed by public support, Duterte is making every effort to consolidate his base, cement his legacy, and handpick a successor so he can continue to exert influence and

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