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Duterte is No. 70 among world’s most powerful

/ 03:58 AM December 16, 2016
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President Rodrigo Duterte. RENATO LUMAWAG/ Presidential Photo

Barely six months in office, the unorthodox President Duterte has already debuted on Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the world’s most powerful people, sharing the limelight with a number of world leaders, including his idol, Russian President Vladimir Putin who ranked No. 1.

Mr. Duterte ranked No. 70 and was the only Southeast Asian leader in Forbes’ “The World’s 74 Most Powerful People” this year. Those on the list were chosen based on the following: how many people they have power over; the financial resources they control; if they have influence in more than one sphere; and how actively they wield their power to change the world.

The President was cited for his tough anticrime campaign and his statements that indicate he was steering the Philippines away from the influence of the United States, the country’s longtime ally and former colonial master, while moving closer to China.

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Reacting to the Forbes list, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Duterte has used his immense power “with utmost responsibility to promote the well-being of the people.”

Andanar said the President’s unprecedented war on drugs has led to the surrender of over 800,000 drug users. Police reports say nearly 6,000 have been killed in the antidrug campaign since July.

Andanar said the new direction of the country’s international relations shows Mr. Duterte’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy and is meant to move “strongly and swiftly towards regional economic rebalancing for closer integration in Asia.” It involves forging closer ties with other Southeast Asian countries, China, Japan, and South Korea, he added.

Putin retained the top spot on Forbes’ eighth annual ranking ahead of US President-elect Donald Trump, who was No. 2, up from No. 72 in 2015 when he first appeared on the list. Trump’s was the biggest leap ever seen on the list.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained as the world’s most powerful woman, ranking third on this list and the highest-ranking woman. Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, dropped to 48 this year from No. 3 in 2015.

Mark Zuckerberg (No. 10), founder and CEO of social networking giant Facebook, is the youngest person on the list.

“Forbes’ list this year of ‘The World’s Most Powerful People’ reflects rapid and profound change happening around the globe. The biggest trend this year is likely the rise to power of Donald Trump, as well as the increasing power of his supporters and allies,” Forbes contributing editor David Ewalt said in a press statement.

Mr. Duterte appears on the list for the first time.  In a press statement, Forbes said the Philippine leader was “realigning a century-long strategic alliance with the United States towards China and whose voice is increasingly heard far outside of Asia.”

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On its Dec. 30 issue, Forbes said the former Davao City mayor was elected president of the Philippines on the strength of a campaign that promised the swift execution of drug users and other criminals, adding that his war on crime had already resulted in the killing of thousands of people.

Likewise cited was Duterte’s announcement during his state visit to China of his “separation” from a strategic alliance with the United States and plans to “realign” the Philippines towards China.

“Duterte’s tendency to say what he thinks, no matter how raw, also keeps him in the headlines: He’s referred to US President Barack Obama as a ‘son of a whore’ and used homophobic slurs to describe political opponents. In December, the country’s independently elected vice president, Leni Robredo, resigned an additional position which she’d been appointed to by Duterte. She cited ‘major differences in principles and values’ with the President, and promised to head up a new opposition party,” the article said.

Other newcomers to the list include Theresa May, Prime Minister, United Kingdom (No. 13); Khalid Al-Falih, Oil Minister, Saudi Arabia (No. 49); Bashar al-Assad, President, Syria (No. 63); Bob Iger, CEO, Walt Disney (No. 67); Charles Schumer, US Senator, Minority Leader (No. 74), and Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader, Al Qaeda (No. 71).

Also new to the list is Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber (No. 64), who is featured on the cover of this latest issue of Forbes magazine. The cover story, Uber’s Bold Move, examined how Kalanick has driven Uber to become the richest startup in history, with a valuation of $68 billion, and how the company is striving to change the way everything moves.

The 10 topnotchers on the list are:

  1. Vladimir Putin, President, Russia
  2. Donald Trump, President-elect, United States
  3. Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany
  4. Xi Jinping, China President and General Secretary, Communist Party of China
  5. Pope Francis, Roman Catholic Church
  6. Janet Yellen, Chair of the US Federal Reserve
  7. Bill Gates, Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  8. Larry Page, CEO, Alphabet (parent company of tech giant Google)
  9. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India
  10. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook —WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE, MARLON RAMOS

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TAGS: “The World’s 74 Most Powerful People”, Forbes magazine, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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