DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 April) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his arch critic detained Senator Leila de Lima landed on Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World 2017.
Time wrote that the annual list of the 100 Most Influential People “explores the intersection of accomplishment and renown. As in years past, this year’s list includes Presidents and Prime Ministers, CEOs and celebrities — but they are joined by others of less fame but great force, in the power of their inventions, the scale of their ambitions, the genius of their solutions to problems that no one before them could solve.”
Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, who was in office from 1990 to 1994, wrote on Duterte, and Samantha Power, a former US ambassador to UN, on de Lima.
Duterte beat Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pope Francis, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg after garnering five percent of the total “yes” votes at the closing of the Time 100 poll Sunday (US time) where he consistently topped since it was opened on March 24.
Gaviria wrote about Duterte’s campaign against drugs that reportedly resulted in the deaths of 7,000 people in the country since June 30, 2016, the day the former mayor of Davao City was sworn into office.
“His ironfisted strategy alarms governments, human-rights organizations and faith-based groups while winning high approval ratings at home,” he said.
Citing his experience in Colombia, Gaviria said he was also seduced into taking a tough stance against drugs only to discover that “the war was unwinnable and the human costs were devastating.”
He said the cure was infinitely worse than the disease.
“Duterte could start by treating drugs as a health, human rights and development issue. He could prosecute the most violent criminals and provide treatment for users rather than condemn them to prison, or worse. There will always be drugs in the Philippines, whether the President likes it or not. The tragedy is that many more people are likely going to die as he learns this lesson,” he said.
Power, meanwhile, wrote of Sen. De Lima as Duterte’s most vocal critic ,who was removed as justice committee chair by Duterte’s allies in Senate and who, despite being jailed in February this year, has continued to criticize the President for his bloody war against drugs.
“Leila de Lima knew with whom she was dealing. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (dubbed “Duterte Harry”) has insulted Pope Francis, told U.S. President Barack Obama to ‘go to hell’ and expressed regret he did not go ‘first’ in a gang rape,” she said.
“But Senator de Lima has become Duterte’s most vocal critic—a role her friends call suicidal. Last August de Lima convened a hearing on Duterte’s drug-war killings, featuring devastating testimony from a former hit man,” she added.
Time wrote that it sought the counsel of previous winners of the poll in coming up with the list, composed of world leaders, company executives, and celebrities. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)