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The New Philippine President's First 30 Days In Office, Explained For Americans

One thing to remember, he hates drugs. A LOT.

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So, this is Rodrigo Duterte. He's the 16th president of the Philippines and this week marks his first month in the office.

He assumed office on June 30, 2016. He's the first Philippine president from Mindanao — the Philippines' southernmost major group of islands — where he served as Davao City's mayor for over 20 years.Time magazine called him "The Punisher," for reasons you might already know (but if you don't, read on!). He's also known as Rody, Digong, Du30, and — um, well — P. Diggy.
Noel Celis / Via Getty Images

He assumed office on June 30, 2016. He's the first Philippine president from Mindanao — the Philippines' southernmost major group of islands — where he served as Davao City's mayor for over 20 years.

Time magazine called him "The Punisher," for reasons you might already know (but if you don't, read on!). He's also known as Rody, Digong, Du30, and — um, well — P. Diggy.

Let's consider what Duterte's accomplished in his first month as president, shall we?

The first #30DaysOfDu30 were also filled with eclectic choices, certainly.

So the main thing you need to know about Duterte is that he 👏 hates 👏 drugs 👏.

Rappler

That was the central theme of his presidential campaign: to eliminate crime and corruption, particularly caused by illegal drugs. He vowed to execute a major crackdown in the first six months of his term to bring criminal activity nationwide down to 0%. It's a pretty aggressive timeline, considering the fact that Filipino presidents only get to have a single six-year term. No re-elections.

When he was mayor of Davao City, he was known (and has admitted, time and again) for eliminating drug personalities and individuals suspected of petty crimes in Davao City through extreme measures (i.e. summary execution).

In an interview with Rappler in 2015, Duterte was firm on his extreme measures to abolish criminal activity. “When I said I’ll stop criminality, I’ll stop criminality,” he said. “If I have to kill you, I’ll kill you. Personally.” Even as he became president-elect, his stances did not waver in the slightest.

Vigilante killers across the country have taken Duterte's words seriously. The death toll from extrajudicial killings has risen to 300 — and the number is only expected to grow.

Getty Images / Via dailymail.co.uk

The president has a "zero-tolerance policy against drugs," said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa. And during his first State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte said, "Double your efforts. Triple them if need be."

Duterte's just barely warmed up his presidential seat and already he's not holding back: He has already named five generals in the PNP who have "protected drug rings" for years.

Like, Duterte literally called out these dudes! He straight up dragged them openly in a speech at the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force.

“It's going to be a dirty fight, it's going to be a bloody fight. I am not apologizing for it,” said Duterte. He then gave the order for these generals to be relieved of their positions immediately, but all five of them denied these allegations.

Ever since Duterte took office, thousands of drug dealers and users have turned themselves in to their local police districts for fear of summary executions.

But drug usage isn't the only thing Duterte's got beef with. He also isn't on good terms with the private media.

In one of his first press conferences as president-elect, Duterte said journalists are to be blamed if they are killed for being corrupt and for over-criticizing. He then cited the case of Davao-based radio commentator Juan Pala, who was shot dead in 2003."Pala was given money, but he still attacked them. That is the best example why journalists are killed. I do not diminish his memory but that he was a rotten son of a bitch," he said. "He deserved it."After this moment, and another incident where he catcalled a female journalist (at the same press con!), Duterte decided to stop holding press meetings with the media. "No press cons, no mistakes," said his special assistant, Christopher Go. For now, they said in June, the president will be addressing the press through the state-owned network PTV-4.
CNN Philippines

In one of his first press conferences as president-elect, Duterte said journalists are to be blamed if they are killed for being corrupt and for over-criticizing. He then cited the case of Davao-based radio commentator Juan Pala, who was shot dead in 2003.

"Pala was given money, but he still attacked them. That is the best example why journalists are killed. I do not diminish his memory but that he was a rotten son of a bitch," he said. "He deserved it."

After this moment, and another incident where he catcalled a female journalist (at the same press con!), Duterte decided to stop holding press meetings with the media. "No press cons, no mistakes," said his special assistant, Christopher Go. For now, they said in June, the president will be addressing the press through the state-owned network PTV-4.

But then, in early July, Duterte ordered the creation of task force against media killings.

The president's spokespeople announced that Duterte is to appoint a prosecutor for cases involving media killings. During his State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte said that the "bonafide media have always been our partners for change."
Courtesy on the Philippine Inquirer

The president's spokespeople announced that Duterte is to appoint a prosecutor for cases involving media killings. During his State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte said that the "bonafide media have always been our partners for change."

Somewhere in the middle of his mostly ad-libed SONA, he announced that he already signed an order on freedom of information (FOI, for short).

It was finally signed after the Philippine congress failed several times to pass the law. The FOI will require all national government agencies to disclose full details of their transactions.
philstar.com

It was finally signed after the Philippine congress failed several times to pass the law. The FOI will require all national government agencies to disclose full details of their transactions.

He also declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New People's Army (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Some context: The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP. The U.S. State Department recognizes the NPA as a terrorist organization. But the Philippines delisted the NPA as a terrorist group in 2011 and has since conducted several peace talks with the CPP, the NPA's parent political organization. So yeah — Duterte commanded the Philippine military to implement a ceasefire with the NPA. He said, "I feel their pain and grief and no amount of cash assistance or the number of medals can compensate the loss of the human life."
philstar.com

Some context: The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP. The U.S. State Department recognizes the NPA as a terrorist organization. But the Philippines delisted the NPA as a terrorist group in 2011 and has since conducted several peace talks with the CPP, the NPA's parent political organization.

So yeah — Duterte commanded the Philippine military to implement a ceasefire with the NPA. He said, "I feel their pain and grief and no amount of cash assistance or the number of medals can compensate the loss of the human life."

Other things of note: Duterte said the Philippines will not honor the commitments it made in the Paris climate change deal.

The agreement, which was signed in December 2015 by the Philippines and 195 other countries in the United Nations, aims to limit warming to below 36°F by cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions.Duterte said the pact "seeks to dictate to developing countries and limit economic growth." He explained that limiting carbon emission for the country is "nonsense" because the Philippines hasn't yet reached its peak when it comes to industrialization.
theguardian.com

The agreement, which was signed in December 2015 by the Philippines and 195 other countries in the United Nations, aims to limit warming to below 36°F by cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Duterte said the pact "seeks to dictate to developing countries and limit economic growth." He explained that limiting carbon emission for the country is "nonsense" because the Philippines hasn't yet reached its peak when it comes to industrialization.

Recently though, it seems like Duterte's been willing to talk it out.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Philippines, they discuess the issue of the Paris Pact. According to a Duterte spokesperson, the president mellowed down upon meeting with Kerry, and said that the Philippines will abide by any agreement as long as it's fair and considers the country's economic plan.
rappler.com

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Philippines, they discuess the issue of the Paris Pact. According to a Duterte spokesperson, the president mellowed down upon meeting with Kerry, and said that the Philippines will abide by any agreement as long as it's fair and considers the country's economic plan.

He also met with former presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Fidel Ramos, and Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino III for the first National Security Council meeting.

The agenda for the NSC meeting was to provide an overview of the "Road Map for Peace and Development." It focused on issues involving different radical groups with an effort to transform the government into a federal one. It was the first time all our living Philippine presidents have come together and Filipino internet had a blast with the photo.
sunstar.com.ph

The agenda for the NSC meeting was to provide an overview of the "Road Map for Peace and Development." It focused on issues involving different radical groups with an effort to transform the government into a federal one. It was the first time all our living Philippine presidents have come together and Filipino internet had a blast with the photo.

On the more light-hearted side of things: Filipinos on the internet have been so amused by Duterte and vice president Leni Robredo that they turned the two politicians into the new (fake, but fun) ~celebrity love team~: #DuBredo.

More context: In Philippine elections, candidates for president and vice president run on separate tickets. And the whole thing is based on popular vote, meaning literally every vote that is cast on election day counts. Duterte won in a landslide. However, Robredo's victory was something of a photo finish, as the VP votes for her were gradually tallied overnight and ultimately put her ahead of the race against the guy in second place, Bongbong Marcos.Now, Bongbong Marcos is the son of a former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos. Bongbong's dad was president from 1965 to 1986. Now, you know how we said presidents only get one six-year term? Well, Ferdinand Marcos then ruled as dictator under martial law from 1972 until 1981. Some Filipinos feared that Bongbong would follow in his father's footsteps and repeat history. Had he been made vice president, he really wouldn't have been able to — but since he and Duterte are close friends, literally anything could've happened.But everyone's seemed to have come around: While Duterte and Robredo don't come from the same political party, the two have promised to work hand-in-hand for their administration. Still, it took Duterte a while to give Robredo a position in his cabinet, and only recently appointed her as the nation's housing czar.
Twitter: @BawalPasaway

More context: In Philippine elections, candidates for president and vice president run on separate tickets. And the whole thing is based on popular vote, meaning literally every vote that is cast on election day counts. Duterte won in a landslide. However, Robredo's victory was something of a photo finish, as the VP votes for her were gradually tallied overnight and ultimately put her ahead of the race against the guy in second place, Bongbong Marcos.

Now, Bongbong Marcos is the son of a former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos. Bongbong's dad was president from 1965 to 1986. Now, you know how we said presidents only get one six-year term? Well, Ferdinand Marcos then ruled as dictator under martial law from 1972 until 1981.

Some Filipinos feared that Bongbong would follow in his father's footsteps and repeat history. Had he been made vice president, he really wouldn't have been able to — but since he and Duterte are close friends, literally anything could've happened.

But everyone's seemed to have come around: While Duterte and Robredo don't come from the same political party, the two have promised to work hand-in-hand for their administration. Still, it took Duterte a while to give Robredo a position in his cabinet, and only recently appointed her as the nation's housing czar.

So yeah, that's about it for P. Diggy's first month. Phew! Whatever happens after Rody's first month-sary, we're definitely in for a ride. #30DaysOfDu30

Star Cinema

Contributor to BuzzFeed Philippines.

Contact Isabelle Laureta at theisabellelaureta@gmail.com.

Matt Ortile (or-TEE-lay) works in editorial operations at BuzzFeed, is the editor of BuzzFeed Philippines, and is based in New York.

Contact Matt Ortile at matt.ortile@buzzfeed.com.

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