- Posted May 3, 2013 by
By Ben O. Tesiorna
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is definitely Mindanao's poster boy.
How did I come to that realization? Well taking into consideration his political career that spanned more than two decades, plus the number of Presidents he had worked and became friends with, add to that the number of positions he handled, and lastly, the wide-reaching influence and adulation he gets for his no-nonsense and iron fist policies in running the city affairs.
Duterte is the man to run to whenever a crisis hits Mindanao. in fact, he was then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "unofficial crisis management officer" for Mindanao for quite sometime. He also was the presidential adviser on security and order.
He was offered a national position by Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III but he declined all of them.
When the New People's Army rebels abduct a military or police personnel, relatives of the victims seek Duterte's help in ensuring their safe release. When the rebels release their captives, they also seek Duterte's help in transporting the victim back to their families.
Rebel leaders from the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front always consult him whenever they have some issues concerning the Davao Region.
All politicians from mayor to governor to regional and national officials, always defer to Duterte's presence.
And with the election season, Duterte's magic is very evident among people he mingled with during campaigns. Just about anywhere, when Duterte is in a political rally it sure is a well-attended one, no matter how late it is or even if it's raining.
In one of his sorties at the 2nd congressional district, Duterte visited Km. 11 in Sasa with re-electionist Rep. Mylene Garcia and his council slate. There, Duterte cussed, lambasted his political foes and even threatened to kill people who would not vote for him and his political party slate.
And all of these were greeted by the people with strong applause and laughters. All in support of whatever Duterte said on stage.
In Tibungco where he arrived with the rain starting to pour and almost midnight, people stayed and listened to Duterte. Some have umbrellas with them but many do not.
So Duterte opted to talk to the people under the rain, without any umbrella or head cover as well. What was supposed to be a short talk due to the rain lasted more than an hour.
Duterte said he averagely talk for 2 hours in every campaign sortie in every districts every night. But mostly, he focus his campaign in the 1st and 2nd districts where his bets, former vice mayor Louie Bonguyan and Rep. Garcia, are facing formidable foes in the persons of incumbent 1st District Karlo Nograles and businesswoman Joji Ilagan-Bian respectively.
In his political sorties, it's Duterte who usually hits hard against his bets' opponents. And to maintain his macho image, in every speech he delivers he asks for bottled water. And a young and beautiful resident is always asked to deliver the bottle to Duterte on stage. And Duterte usually asks and gets a kiss from the young lady who gives him the water.
Duterte said he used to be the silent-type of a guy back when he was working as a government prosecutor. He said he only transforms into a fighting mode when he appears in court since his work calls for it.
"Pero most of the time, I prefer being silent," Duterte said.
His transformation from being a silent guy to an iron-fist local chief executive is an enigma to many that only added more facets to the Duterte magic.
Duterte believes his being a politician is his destiny. He never wanted to join politics before but he was forced into it. When Cory Aquino became president, Duterte's mother, Soledad, was supposed to be the appointed vice mayor.
But Nanay Soleng begged off thus Rody Duterte became the mother's replacement. From then on, the Dutertes have lorded over the political scenario in Davao City.
Rody Duterte became the city chief executive for 18 years and counting, twice held the vice mayoral post and once as representative of the 1st congressional district.
His daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, also became vice mayor and later mayor. His eldest son, Paolo is the ABC president and councilor and is now running unopposed as the city vice mayor.
Many criticized the Dutertes for allegedly practicing political dynasty in the city. And this issue raised by Bian was what earned her Duterte's ire. He said it was never his family's fault if the people wanted them to serve.
Besides, Duterte said, no existing law prohibits a son or daughter or a relative of an incumbent official to seek an elective position for as long as he or she is qualified to run.
ALL FOR THE GOOD OF THE CITY
When killings were rampant in the city, most Davao City residents were never alarmed by it. The simple reason was that many thought it was the handiwork of Duterte who wanted to clean the city of criminals.
Duterte, of course denied this in the Commission on Human Rights investigation few years back. But he admitted before then CHR chair Leila de Lima that he would not think twice in killing a criminal that would put his family in danger.
Duterte's statement made de Lima exclaimed "amazing" during the public investigation.
A mere mention of the urban legend "Davao Death Squad", an alleged vigilante group believed by many Davaoeños to be Duterte's brainchild, is enough to make criminal scamper out of the city.
Whatever Duterte does or say, majority of the Davaoeños believe it is always for the good of the people. And so the Duterte magic continues to enthrall the people. For how long? For as long as he lives, I guess. BOT