7 Unsettling Facts About Rodrigo Duterte

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump raised international eyebrows when he invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House. If you don’t know who Duterte is, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a nice gesture of international relations from a president notorious for xenophobia — but unfortunately, Duterte is not the sort of man the United States should keep in its company.

Put bluntly, he’s a dictator, heading up a brutal regime. Here are seven things you might not know about Duterte — and compelling evidence that he probably wouldn’t make the best house guest.

1. He called President Barack Obama a “son of a whore.”

Relations between the U.S. and the Philippines haven’t always been the best, but this was definitely a low point. After the American president brought up concerns about human rights violations in 2016, Duterte went on a public tirade and was forced to apologize. At least President Obama is in good company — the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Pope Francis are apparently also sons of whores.

2. He’s heading up a bloody drug war.

After taking office in 2016, Duterte embarked on a quest to stamp out drugs. That quest has included murdering thousands of people suspected of involvement in the drug trade. The campaign includes awards for citizens who kill not just drug traffickers, but also people with substance abuse problems. He’d had practice: As mayor of Davao, a major Philippine city, Duterte oversaw the deaths of thousands of residents. Some human rights advocates say he’s effectively managing death squads.

3. He makes rape threats.

In the aftermath of a violent rape in 1989, Duterte was caught on tape saying he “should have been first.” He’s also been quite outspoken about his use of Viagra and fondness for adultery, so he should be right at home in the White House.

4. He views Hitler as a role model.

In 2016, Duterte sparked outrage — especially in the Jewish community — when he discussed his quest to kill all drug addicts and compared himself to Hitler. He was responding to questions about accusations of genocide, and remarked that: “Hitler massacred three million Jews, now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to massacre them.”

Aside from being appalling, the statement was also untrue — Hitler oversaw the murder of an estimated six million Jewish people, along with disabled people, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roma.

5. He’s threatened to leave the UN.

After raising questions about possible human rights violations, the UN found itself the target of the president’s wrath as Duterte threatened to leave the venerable organization. He bit back on the criticism, claiming that the UN was ineffective at ending abuses in Iraq and Syria, and demanded a refund on his dues.

6. He’s the subject of an International Criminal Court complaint.

The report claims that Duterte has been involved in a systemic pattern of extrajudicial killings over the last three decades, since he first took office as Davao’s mayor in the late 1980s. It’s a lengthy document with detailed discussions of Duterte’s own statements, testimony from whistleblowers and more. The ICC hasn’t announced whether it will move forward with an investigation into the complaint, which was filed in the last week of April.

7. He’s not the first authoritarian leader to get the Trump seal of approval.

After seizing more power in a referendum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got a congratulatory call from the U.S. president. Meanwhile, Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, was invited to the White House to discuss renewed friendship between the United States and Egypt. President Obama expressed grave concerns about Egypt’s record on human rights and other matters, and had maintained a frosty relationship with the nation’s president. Trump has also historically praised people like Benito Mussolini and Saddam Hussein.

Thankfully, Duterte says his busy schedule may preclude a trip to the White House, but the fact that the invite was extended at all should be cause for concern.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thanks for posting.

Sarah H
Sarah Hill9 months ago

He is a world leader who was elected to office. Just because he might be a horrible person doesn't make him less of a leader of an important country to us.

Lenore K
Lenore K10 months ago


Will Rogers
Will Rogers11 months ago

What an unsavoury character! However he is not a dictator, he is a democratically elected leader. It's like the world has gone crazy, voting in these nutters! Trump, Duterte, Brexit! He may act like one . But he is not a dictator.

Margie F11 months ago

Thank you

Carl R
Carl R11 months ago


Colin C
Colin C11 months ago

Good information to know

Jennifer H
Jennifer H11 months ago

Is anyone really shocked by this? Rump wants to learn from experienced dictators.

william Miller
william Miller11 months ago


natasha s
Past Member 11 months ago

Another unstable psychopath leader--nothing new. Look around there's a very short list of descent leaders--not great but at least human ones. Both Trump+this thing should be locked up.