DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte apologized to his supporters on Monday after declaring he would not run for president in next year’s elections.
Ending months of waiting and speculations as to his political plans, Duterte told media at the Grand Men Seng Hotel that his family disapproved of his running for the country’s highest position.
“I would like to categorically state now (to end) the agony of those who are waiting na hindi ako tatakbo ng presidente. Wala akong ambition maging presidente sa 2016,” he said.
During the culmination of “Run Duterte Run” caravan on August 28 where some 10,000 supporters showed up at the Rizal Park, Duterte signified his “50-50” interest in running for president, but that his decision would depend on his family’s approval.
He said his daughter, former Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, vehemently disapproved of his running for the presidency.
Speculations that Duterte will run for president heightened after he went to different key cities around the country since last year to push for a shift to federalism.
“I told you it is all about federalism. Gusto ako suportahan pagka-presidente medyo napasubo sila sa desisyon nila because some of them are leaders of national parties,” he said.
Duterte said he will retire from public service starting next year and will ask daughter Sara to run again for city mayor.
Duterte, mayor from 1988 to 1998, representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001 and mayor again from 2001 to 2010, served as vice mayor to his daughter-mayor from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, he was elected mayor for the seventh time with son Paolo as vice mayor.
In a chance interview with Davao media on Sept. 1, Paolo said he would give way to his siblings, Sara and Sebastian, should they decide to seek higher positions.
Sebastian has been prodded by a private group to run as the city’s 3rd district representative, succeeding Isidro Ungab who his on his last term as congressman.
Paolo said he will run again as barangay captain of Catalunan Grande, where his wife Councilor January Navares-Duterte is currently the village chief and president of Association of Barangay Councils, rather than putting another Duterte in any higher position in the city.
“Puno na kaayo og Duterte ang syudad sa Davao… didto nalang ko sa ako barangay (Davao City is already full of Dutertes… I’d rather go back to my barangay),” he said.
The Duterte patriarch also apologized to the Moro people who “have exhibited enthusiasm” in federalism and his candidacy for the presidential election.
“Mga kapatid ko sana patawarin nyo ako (To my moro brothers and sisters, please forgive me),” he said.
He encouraged them to be critical in choosing the next president who will not turn a blind eye on the plight of the Moro people for a long-lasting peace in Mindanao.
He added he will support whoever is the candidate who will listen to the people of Mindanao.
“I will support a candidate who can support Mindanao. I am worried of the Moro people because they have this problem that has to be resolved,” he added.
He also warned nothing would appease the Muslim community if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was not passed.
“I am warning everybody, kung hindi lumusot ang BBL, nothing short of federalism will appease the Muslim community. Nothing short of federalism can make Mindanao peaceful,” he said.
If both the Senate and the House of Representatives pass their versions of the BBL, it must be acceptable to both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, he said.
“Kung lumusot man yan (If BBL will ever make it), you have to contend with (Nur) Misuari and everybody else in Mindanao. Ang hingi ng mga tao sa Mindanao kung wala man ang BBL, ibigay nyo na sa kanila ang federalism (If the people of Mindanao can’t have the BBL, give them the federalism),” he said.
Whoever gets elected as president, and if support for federalism will still be there, Duterte said he will play an active role in pushing for reforms “but not as a politician anymore.”
“Insha Allah (If the Almighty Creator wills),” he said.
“I hope ang version will satisfy the Bangsamoro people; if it’s not, then you have to go for federalism. If you don’t want it then I cannot assure of a peaceful Mindanao,” he added.
Private sector not losing hope
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Antonio Dela Cruz III said he is not losing hope until the last minute of the filing of certificate of candidacy next month.
“There is still more than one month to change his mind,” he added. “Let’s keep praying… He is the only candidate who asks for God’s blessing among other candidates.”
But he said he will respect Duterte’s decision if ever he decides not to run.
If ever he changes his mind, Dela Cruz said Duterte will need the support of all Filipinos to bring about reforms in the country. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)