The Friday Briefing: Duterte, doppelgängers and new days off

More than ever before, President Duterte has dominated the news cycle this week. Whether it’s his apparent confession of gunning down criminal suspects, his admission of age-related frailty (and opiate dependency) or his continuing popularity in the polls, he remains the man of moment. But there’s been so much more happening in the Philippines this week, — here’s our weekly summary:

Bato and Bato

Rock star

Ronald dela Rosa, the Director General of the Philippine National Police, is reportedly being treated as “a rock star”. The UK’s Daily Mail says he is frequently mobbed by “fans” clamouring for selfies. The top cop, whose nickname means “The Rock” is an enthusiastic supporter of the president’s anti-drug policies.

Read more Mail Online here

War on terror

Are the gloves coming off? The president has ordered security forces to decimate “the forces of evil” in Mindanao, including the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group. (This is in the same week that he said that the nation’s communists “would die for him”).

More here from The Manila Standard

Healthy democracy?

I feel uncomfortable to speculate about anybody’s state of health (it’s not my business, and I ain’t a doctor), but in the president’s case, it has become a talking point.

Read a report from Reuters here

“My last hurrah”

Whether or not I feel comfortable commenting on his health, the president has himself opened up about his own well-being, referring to his age and frequent migraines.

GMA news has more here

Mr Popularity

Let’s be clear, despite anything the papers say, Mr Duterte is still riding high in the opinion polls. However, increasing numbers of voters say they’re concerned about his “straight talking” (swearing).

The Inquirer reports on the latest survey here

More fun

Good news for the Philippine tourist industry. According to the latest figures, visitor numbers are surging. Koreans are the biggest cohort, followed by the Chinese, and then Americans. The highest spending visitors are Canadians.

Read more at The Manila Standard here

hangs self

Rope or Rohypnol?

The president has sent a Christmas message to drug addicts. Announcing a fund of five million pesos to pay for rehabilitation medication, he offered the nation’s junkies an alternative — a rope, to hang themselves.

Star has more here

Gridlock unlocked?

I’m not holding my breath, but maybe, just maybe, this could be the beginning of sorting out the nation’s traffic problems…

For a full report on how the president has been granted executive powers to sort shit out, see ABS-CBN.

Happy holidays

Great news if you’re a worker, maybe not so good if you’re an employer. The government has announced two new public holidays for this year’s festive season.

The Sun Star has the details here

Red letter day

It didn’t take long for the reds to make the most of the new day off. Nationwide rallies are planned for December 26.

For details, see ABS-CBN.

Fund runs dry

Our own Dave Bramovich has already discussed this issue here. America is holding back a big chunk of change due to concerns about the current human rights debate.

For more on this, see GMA News Online

Cash is king?

Sometimes, the news in this country is so confusing and convoluted, it’s difficult to know where to start. How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? So, I present this story about immigration officials allegedly accepting 50 million pesos from a Chinese gambling magnate without any further comment.

Full story at Philstar here

Cold turkey

So, as a recovering drug addict, you think it’s bad enough that the president is encouraging you to hang yourself? It could be worse. Police are now subjecting the poor souls to carol singing.

Video here

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Separated at birth?

And finally, Hollywood film star Chloe Grace Moretz has acknowledged the remarkable resemblance between herself and a Jollibee worker from Melanin. Apparently, it’s gone viral, or something.

Story here