DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 February) — President Rodrigo Duterte is unfazed by criticisms hurled against him, vowing he would, in the next 53 months, “just really work, work, work and work tutal andito na lang rin, basa na man ako, maligo na lang ako” (anyway I’m already wet, I might as well take a bath).
He quotes what the late US President Abraham Lincoln says about dealing with criticisms. “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all attacks made on me, this shop — the Presidency, my Presidency — might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I can and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything, but if the end brings me out wrong, ten angels of God swearing I was right could make no difference.”
Since June 30, 2016, Duterte, the 16th President of the Philippines and the first Mindanawon to lead the nation, has changed or redefined the people’s perception of the Presidency in so many ways.
“I am a non-conformist. You know that. I hate scripts, that’s why I do not read my speeches. I do not like to be — I do not like to be molded into something which I’m not,” he told MindaNews on January 12.
But how has the Presidency changed or redefined Rodrigo Roa Duterte?
“Nothing except that I’m tired and if you ask me, looking in the hindsight, the day I decided to run, I should just have opted to .. retire,” he said.
“I am not saying that I feel lousy. I’m proud, I’m happy of winning the election but age is having its toll on me. I am not that young and if I work, really work, going to places, going to Marawi siege, flying to another place, it seems that it zaps my, it zaps my energy endlessly. Talagang ngayon lang ako naka-experience na humiga nakasapatos, (It’s only now that I have experienced lying on bed with my shoes on), without really bothering to take off the comforters. Deretso na lang tulog,” the President said.
What is a day like in the life of Duterte the President?
“My day starts at 1 (p.m.), the nocturnal Duterte said. “But I should be crossing Pasig by 2 o’clock (from Bahay Pagbabago to his office in Malacanang) then during the Cabinet meeting (I spend) sometimes five to six hours.”
Work, he said, includes “trying to talk to people, the diplomatic rounds, discussing the wherewithals of trade and commerce and endlessly being patient to hear out everybody.”
Duterte, mayor of Davao City for 22 years, told a small group of visitors at the Presidential Guest House in the early hours of December 16 last year that he “did not have a transition” as he went straight from city mayor to President of the Philippines.
He admits he has not grown into the Presidency. “I never left the paradigm of being mayor kaya ang tingin ko, mayor lang rin. That’s why I want to be addressed as Mayor. I do not want to be addressed as President.”
He does not think he can still grow into the Presidency, citing his age. “The better if I am about 45 or 50 today,” he said.
Duterte was 43 when he was elected Mayor of Davao City in 1988 and 71 when he was elected President of the Philippines in 2016.
He is turning 73 on March 28.
He says can cite no major disappointments in his first 18 months in office. “Wala man” (none), explaining that crticisms against him while he was mayor – particularly referring to the killings in the city — “kay Nograles pa man yang ganon. Black propaganda. Balewala sa akin” (that’s black propaganda from Nograle), referring to his political rival then, Prospero Nograles.
On the issue of human rights, Duterte said, “I find beauty in it actually. Because they were predicting all sorts of things na ganon ganon human rights and they were dyan sila __ mga yellow tards pati itong ulol na NPA (New People’s Army), ginamit pa as if it did not start from them. Sabi ko time will tell. Kita mo, after so many tonelada na sweat, tapos anong nangyari? Eighty-two per cent pa rin ako. Sinong Presidente na nakaabot ng 82%.”
He was referring to his 82% trust ratings as of the last quarter of 2017, according to Pulse Asia. The Social Weather Stations survey put his trust rating at 83%.
“And you think that that absolves you of all these criticisms?” MindaNews asked.
“No, but I find pleasure that I deluded them … (into) thinking of me as something and ang masakit sa ga-analyze, I deluded them to think that it is true,” Duterte said.
“That it is true that?” MindaNews asked. “Sabi nila ‘killer ka.’ Oo killer ako. Ano, eh di sige,’killer siya, killer siya, sabi niya killer siya’,” he replied.
The making of Rodrigo Roa Duterte the President is credited to the steady support he has generated within the city since he served as OIC Vice Mayor in 1986 and later, nationwide, eventually landing him the top post, and according to him, “good governance.”
But did he not become what he has become also because past Presidents did not want to touch him, MindaNews asked.
From Aquino the mother to Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo to Aquino the son, the tenant in Malacanang was well aware of Mayor Duterte’s unconventional ways in dealing with criminals and his bloody war on drugs.
Duterte’s Davao City — which has nearly a million voters — is the vote-richest among Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities.
In the 2016 elections, Mindanao had 12.63 million registered voters out of the country’s 54.36 million, according to the Commission on Elections.
Of this number, Davao City topped with 873,670 voters. And if Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. had his “Solid North,” Duterte had his “Solid South” or a “Solid Mindanao” in the May 2016 polls. “Mindanao ako bumawi talaga” (I won overwhelmingly in Mindanao), he said. (In surveys since he became President, Mindanao’s high percentage rating for him has been pulling his nationwide rating).
Duterte won in 22 out of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 29 out of its 33 cities.
The standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) won in 22 provinces but lost to administration bet Manuel Roxas (Liberal Party) in the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Camiguin, Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Norte (Roxas won by 460 votes) and to Independent bet, Senator Grace Poe in Zamboanga del Sur.
Duterte also won in 29 Mindanao cities but lost to Roxas in the cities of Bayugan, Lamitan, Ozamiz and Tangub.
Duterte does not think past Presidents did not want to touch him. “No, kasi wala naman talaga.”
“There were investigations that did not prosper,” MindaNews said, but he quickly replied, “Because I was very careful in not creating a theory for the other side. Yung theory nila is still theory. But kung yung theory nila, theory ko sinunod nila, yun ang tama. talagang pinatay ko ang mga put_ngina. Sinabi ko wag mo nang.. I told you not to f_ck with my country,” Duterte said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)