American news magazine Time released this April 20 its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world (often abbreviated as Time 100). As in previous years, the individuals were divided into five categories: titans, pioneers, artists, leaders, and icons.
Two Filipinos made it to the list this 2017: President Rodrigo Duterte and his detained nemesis Senator Leila de Lima. Duterte has been widely expected to be included in the list since he’s been ranking high in Time Magazine’s online poll. Plus, he’s been making international headlines even as a candidate. However, De Lima’s appearance is quite surprising.
Among those included in this year’s list are Pope Francis, United States President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, American comedian and television host Samantha Bee, as well as singer Demi Lovato.
Before we discuss how Duterte and De Lima were presented in the list, it must first be cleared what this list signifies. “The TIME 100 is a list of the world’s most influential men and women, not its most powerful, though those are not mutually exclusive terms.,” according to Nancy Gibbs, the managing editor of the magazine.
Parenthetically, the magazine doesn’t give any distinctions if that influence was used for good (like women’s education advocate Malala Yousafzai) or bad purposes (like North Korean leader Kim Jong-un). In fact, Time Magazine has recognized as “Man of the Year” dictators Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin in previous decades.
The short article about Duterte was written by Cesar Gaviria, president of Colombia from 1990 to 1994. Gaviria famously wrote an op-ed in New York Times last February appealing to Duterte to change his approach to the anti-drugs campaign. “The polls suggest that Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs is equally popular. But he will find that it is unwinnable. I also discovered that the human costs were enormous. We could not win the war on drugs through killing petty criminals and addicts,” he wrote.
Gaviria echoed the same message in his article for Time about Duterte. “There are solutions that work. 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,” he explained.
If the write-up about Duterte is critical in tone, the opposite can be said regarding the article about De Lima. To begin with, she was listed under the “Icons” category together with Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, civil rights hero John Lewis, Brazilian football superstar Neymar, among others.
In her article, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power noted that while “most opposition politicians (in the Philippines) have kept their heads down, knowing Duterte is both terrifyingly brutal and massively popular,” De Lima remained to be his most vocal critic. Power served during the administration of former President Barack Obama.