At the time, the Philippines was on the back end of a largely frustrating tenure by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, whose liberal inclinations, soft power focus, and overall impotent administration perfectly set up any potential successor to stake a claim with a more action-oriented platform. There was a sense that anything was better than the status quo.
Like most populists, Duterte fit the bill. He was a man who capitalized, better than any of the other candidates, on the sentiment that something drastic had to be done. His highly questionable human rights record and past as a political turncoat didn’t much come into play during the campaign. With much fanfare, Duterte won the election.