VERA FILES FACT CHECK: TIME magazine DID NOT recognize, praise Duterte as ‘strongman’ anew

A YouTube channel revived a two-year-old TIME magazine story on May 31 and published a video titled, “EXCLUSIVE: Pres DUTERTE MULING KINILALA ng TIME MAGAZINE bilang (Pres. Duterte recognized anew by TIME magazine as) “STRONGMAN” in the WORLD!|.” This is false.

It also misleadingly presents the title “strongman” as a praise for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

The cover story that Showbiz Fanaticz featured in its inaccurate upload was from TIME’s May 3, 2018 issue, which placed Duterte alongside other “tough-talking populists” such as his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Contrary to Showbiz Fanaticz’s claim that Duterte was hailed as a strongman for his “brave and firm leadership,” dictionary definitions of the term do not show such leaders in a good light.

Merriam-Webster refers to a strongman as someone “who leads or controls by force of will and character or by military methods.” University of Oxford’s Lexico puts it simply as “a leader who rules by the exercise of threats, force, or violence.”

This negative connotation of the term was also affirmed by the piece’s author Ian Bremmer in a follow-up article published May 11, 2018, after Duterte reacted to his story and said he was not a strongman. Bremmer described the world leaders in his first article as those “who’ve won elections in their countries while restricting basic freedoms to tighten their hold on power.”

Showbiz Fanaticz also said TIME described Duterte as someone who has shown “unstoppable humanity” and “transparency.” This claim is fabricated.

Adding to the list of falsehoods propagated by the story, the YouTube channel quoted a article on TIME’s strongman issue and falsely claimed it was recently published. It also wrongly described the news publication as a “men’s magazine.”

Showbiz Fanaticz’s erroneous video made the rounds online as opposition to the controversial Anti-Terrorism bill, certified by Duterte as urgent, mounted. The bill has been passed and sent to the presidential palace for his signature.

The inaccurate video has received over 165,000 views on Youtube, and could have reached over 1.6 million people. Traffic to the upload largely came from public FB pages Francis Leo Marcos Supporters group, Duterte Kami, and Ang Pagbabalik Namin Mga DDS @ SARAH DUTERTE & BBM PARA SA 2022.

VERA Files Fact Check has also flagged FB page Pinoy Online Trendz and at least four websites that have republished the video —,,, and

Showbiz Fanaticz, which has a history of publishing disinformation, joined Youtube in November 2017.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)