Deborah is a senior journalist and editor who has worked across all media platforms including digital, print, radio and television including Channel Nine, ABC Radio and NewsCorp.
"He is blunt and offers simple and often brutal solutions to very complex problems.
He appeals to many who are frustrated with the status quo, a yawning wealth divide and a perception that traditional political elites are unwilling or unable to address key public concerns."
It's a familiar description of Donald Trump and the political climate that catapulted him into the White House, right?
In fact, it is a description of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and an explanation of his popularity despite his war on drugs which has seen the extrajudicial killing of an estimated 8000 Filipinos.
The assessment comes from Human Rights Watch Asia deputy-director Phelim Kine who says there is a difference between popularity and legitimacy.
"President Duterte is trampling on his obligations to protect the rights of the Filipino people enshrined in the Philippine constitution and international human rights law, which severely diminishes his legitimacy," Mr Kine said.
Yet the international community including Australia is largely silent on the war on drugs, apparently indifferent to state-sanctioned murder.
In evaluating Duterte’s popularity, it’s important to remember that public opposition to Duterte can bring swift and potentially devastating consequences.
Mr Kine said among the constituency who voted for Duterte was a core of strong support because he was a charismatic populist politician who was the antithesis of the traditional Filipino politician.
Surveys suggest that Duterte’s popularity is in the 70%-80% range.
"I can’t speak for the reliability of the methodology of those polls. But a consistent majority of people surveyed also expressed opposition to the death toll of Duterte’s drug war, and expressed a preference that suspected drug users and dealers be arrested and prosecuted, rather than summarily executed."
The Philippines is a democratic country and Duterte was elected with a plurality of the vote with 38 per cent of the electorate voting for him, the highest number of votes against a field of candidates.
That means that 62 per cent of Filipinos who went to the polls voted for someone else.
"But in evaluating Duterte’s popularity, it’s important to remember that public opposition to Duterte can bring swift and potentially devastating consequences," Mr Kine warned.
He said members of the public who criticised the drug war were vulnerable to withering online criticism by a pro-Duterte “keyboard army” that harassed and intimidated people in a blatant effort to silence them.
"The highest profile lawmaker to challenge the drug war and demand accountability, Senator Leila de Lima, was subjected to months of relentless, misogynist invective from Duterte and pro-Duterte lawmakers before she was arrested and imprisoned on politically-motivated drugs charges."
The Australian Government could and should do so much more on the behalf of the terrorized inhabitants of Manila’s urban slums, the epicenter of the drug war killing zone.
In October, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop urged the Phillipines “to ensure the cessation of extrajudicial killings and offer all Filipino citizens their rights according to the country’s criminal justice system.”
"But in March she made a point of visiting Duterte in his hometown of Davao and her failure to make any public comments about the thousands of killings linked to Duterte’s drug war made the visit look like a a pilgrimage to the home of a self-confessed killer," Mr Kine said.
"The Australian Government could and should do so much more on the behalf of the terrorized inhabitants of Manila’s urban slums, the epicenter of the drug war killing zone," he said.
Mr Kine has called for the suspension of all Australian police assistance and training programs to the Philippine National Police until the Duterte government ends its abusive war on drugs and allows an international investigation into the unlawful killings.
A Foreign Affairs Department spokesman said the Australian Government was deeply concerned about reports of extrajudicial killings associated with the so-called ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines.
"During her visit to the Philippines in March 2017, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, discussed the country’s anti-drug campaign at length with President Duterte," the spokesman said.
"The Minister conveyed Australian and international concerns with respect to extrajudicial killings and spoke of the importance we attach to human rights and the rule-of-law. The Minister also raised the issue with three senior ministers and with a member of the Commission on Human Rights and other human rights advocacy groups."
American President Donald Trump's recent decision to invite Duterte to the White House, and despite Duterte's embarrassing rebuff, has lent its own legitimacy.
"Trump's implicit support for Duterte's anti-drug campaign suggests a stunning apathy toward its brutal reality," Mr Kine said.
"Trump didn’t just fail to express concern about the drug war's death toll, he provided an airbrushed assessment of that bloodshed that made what is no less than a murderous war on the poor sound like a legitimate anti-drug operation," he said.
"That constitutes a grievous insult to injury for family members of victims and also betrays the few Filipinos courageous enough to speak out against the drug war."
Of course, the Philippines is of regional strategic importance to the United States. China’s nuclear-armed submarines are located at Hainan Island in the South China Sea. For these submarines’ missiles to pose a first or second strike threat to the continental United States, they must transit the South China Sea and enter the Western Pacific. Their most suitable route would be through the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Japan of has been particularly craven in its blind-eye approach to the drug war.
Mr Kine said it was dismaying that the human rights calamity that Duterte had inflicted on the Philippines was not a bilateral issue of importance for all self-styled rights-respecting countries that had close relations with the Philippines.
He accused Japan of being particularly craven in its blind-eye approach to the drug war.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a January 12-13 state visit to the Philippines, during which he announced a five-year US$800 million Japanese government Overseas Development Assistance package to promote economic and infrastructure development.
Mr Abe promised unspecified financial support for drug rehabilitation programmes in the Philippines.
During his visit and afterward, he made no public reference to the war on drugs.
That omission did not go unnoticed by Duterte, who reacted by praising Japan as “a friend unlike any other.”
Mr Kine said it was important for countries with close bilateral diplomatic and economic relations with the Philippines to remember that they had leverage on Duterte’s government and they should use it.
"A critical mass of foreign governments that restrict funding and technical assistance to the Philippine National Police and other agencies implicated in the drug war can impose a cost for that abusive behavior that even Duterte might find difficult to ignore," he said.