DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 June) — On March 16, 2004, when there was still no Presidential guesthouse (“Malacanang of the South”) here, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ended his “’Araw ng Dabaw” speech by thanking guest of honor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for coming and celebrating with Dabawenyos, assuring her she is “most welcome to stay in Davao City and make it the country’s seat of power.”
Twelve years later, while Malacanan Palace remains the official residence and office of the country’s head of state, the Davao City has become “the country’s seat of power,” too, with the election of Duterte as the 16th President of the Philippines, the first ever Mindanawon to lead the country.
Although it is not clear how many work days Duterte would spend in Malacanang and Davao, what is certain is that he won’t be flying back to this city daily, as he had repeatedly said during the campaign.
What is also certain is that some agencies attached to the Office of the President, will have staff based in Malacanang and in Davao City, too, some of them at the “Malacanang of the South” whose construction was completed around 2007 (Arroyo reportedly spent only a night there until her term ended in June 2010).
Arroyo’s successor, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, did not use the facility but some Cabinet members did, particularly in the aftermath of super typhoon Pablo, when the DPWH compound became the staging point for distribution of relief goods to residents in affected areas.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), will be among the offices that will have a Davao office, too, but not necessarily in Panacanang, as the “Malacanang of the South” is referred to now (after Panacan, the district where it is located) and Malacanang.
Returning PAPP Jesus Dureza told MindaNews Wednesday that they are still scouting for a “Mindanao office in Davao.”
Panacanang has been serving as Duterte’s office since May 31, a day after his proclamation as winner in the May 9, 2016 polls.
He has been receiving well-wishers and diplomats there, as well as potential Cabinet members, held his first Cabinet meeting (May 31) and two press conferences – on May 31 and on June 2 where he announced he would boycott media until the end of his six-year term.
In his 2004 Araw ng Dabaw speech, Duterte credited the city’s “amazing success to the pioneering spirit of the Dabawenyos” who “always seem to be blazing new trails, setting new standards, and creating new things.”
He shared the city’s many firsts, the 911 Emergency Response Center, among them.
“We are proud to be one of only three places in the world where there is a true 911 state-of-the-art quick response team- the United States, Canada, and the Republic of Davao,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)