DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 May) – Although the results are still partial and unofficial, there is no doubt, and even his rivals have conceded, that with a lead of at least six million votes, the 71-year old Rodrigo Roa Duterte, seven-term mayor of Davao City, will take his oath noon of June 30, 2016 as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, the first ever Mindanawon to make it to the highest post of the land since the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated in Malolos, Bulacan in January 1899.
Duterte will be the fourth President — after 55 years — from outside Luzon, the country’s vote-richest island and home to 12 Presidents.
Three other Presidents hailed from the Visayas, as can be gleaned from the Presidential Museum and Library website: Sergio Osmena of Cebu City who served from August 1, 1944 to May 28, 1946,; Manuel Acuña Roxas of Capiz (renamed Roxas City) from May 28, 1946 to April 15, 1948; and Carlos Polistico Garcia of Talibon, Bohol, from March 18, 1957 to December 30, 1961.
Re-elected Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Davao City delivers his inaugural speech in 1992. Photo courtesy of RENE B. LUMAWAG
Duterte will be the second city mayor to rise to the Presidency after Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) and the 9th lawyer after 30 years. The last lawyer-President was Ferdinand Edralin Marcos who was elected in 1965, reelected in 1969, declared martial law in 1972 and was ousted by People Power in 1986.
Two Mindanawons were a heartbeat away from the Presidency: Emmanuel Neri Pelaez who was elected Vice President (1961 to 1965) to President Diosdado Macapagal and Teofisto Tayko Guingona who was appointed (2001 to 2004) by then newly-assumed President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Duterte traces his roots to the Visayas but makes it a point in every campaign sortie to say his grandmother was a Maranao and he has grandchildren who are Tausug.
He was born on March 28, 1945 in Maasin, Southern Leyte to Vicente Duterte, a government worker, and Soledad Roa, a public school teacher.
From Danao to Davao
Duterte spent his early years in Danao, Cebu. But the promise of a better life lured the young Duterte couple to move to Mindanao, then touted to be the “Land of Promise.”
The Dutertes settled in the then undivided Davao in 1949, when the future President was four years old.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who will be 16th President of the Phlippines, shades his ballot at Clustered Voting Precinct 416 in Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School in Matina Aplaya on Monday, May 9. MindaNews photo by KEITH BACONGCO
He said his father, like many other fathers from Visayas and Luzon, came to Mindanao with only a “damgo” (dream) of a better future for his children.
That “damgo” indeed gave Vicente’s children a better future. Vicente later entered the political arena and was elected governor of the undivided Davao from 1959 to 1965.
No other Duterte held an elective post until 1988 when Rodrigo, OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City from 1986 to 1988, ran for mayor.
The younger Duterte’s entry into politics was accidental.
When People Power ousted the Marcoses in 1986 and the Cory Aquino administration appointed OICs for local government posts, Zafiro Respicio was appointed OIC mayor while Duterte’s mother, Soledad, was named OIC Vice Mayor.
But Soledad, who was active in the Yellow Friday Movement following the August 1983 assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino, declined the offer, suggesting his son, Rodrigo, instead.
Rodrigo was then a prosecutor at the City Fiscal’s Office.
After serving as OIC Vice Mayor from 1986 to 1988, Duterte ran and won against Respicio for mayor in the first post-Marcos election in 1988. He was reelected in 1992 and 1995.
Since the law allows only three consecutive terms, Duterte ran for Congress in the first district, serving there from 1998 to 2001, a three-year term he described as “boring.”
He made a comeback for mayor in the 2001 elections, was reelected in 2004 and 2007. From 2010 to 2013, he was vice mayor to his daughter-mayor Sara, and in 2013, ran again for mayor, his seventh term, with son Paolo as vice mayor.
He has not lost an election since he joined politics.
In his campaign sorties nationwide, Duterte, the first ever Mindanawon Presidential aspirant who managed to capture the imagination of the entire nation across the islands and across socioeconomic classes and religions, would devote several minutes to talk about Philippine history from the point of view of Mindanao.
It is this historical narrative that is least known to majority of Filipinos who continue to be educated by textbooks framing Philippine history from the national capital.
Ghazali Jaafar, 1st Vice Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (right) introduces the other members of the MILF Central Committee to presidential candidate and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao on February 27, 2016. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Duterte would transport his audience back to 1521 when Magellan landed in Leyte (to the dismay of course of those who maintain he landed in Mazaua, Butuan), and tell them how Islam in Mindanao was ahead of Magellan and Christianity by 70 years. He would talk about the Sultanates long existing, about the injustices done to the Moro people by the colonizers Spain and America, the marginalization and minoritization of the Moro in their own land and how Philippine Presidential administrations have repeatedly tried to address these but failed.
“We must correct the historical injustice,” he would repeatedly say and follow this through by vowing to push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) while his administration works for the shift to federalism.
Duterte is the lone candidate among five to espouse change in the political system from the unitary, Presidential, highly centralized form to the federal, parliamentary system, a vision pushed for by several delegates to the 1971 Constitution from Mindanao and the Visayas.
“Nothing short of a federal structure would give Mindanao peace. Maniwala kayo (Believe me). You believe me because I come from that place,” he would repeatedly say.
He lamented how Mindanao has become a battleground for decades and that as mayor for 22 years, he has seen “so much bloodshed to last me a lifetime.”
“Why do we have to go to war in Mindanao? Bakit tayo magpatayan?” (why do we have to kill each other?)
He said there is a need to shift to a federal form of government because “the destiny of Mindanao is not controlled by us” but by the national government in Manila.
The shift to federalism requires amending the 1987 Constitution.
Although some portions of his historical narrative are quite simplistic, his repetition before millions of diehard supporters on the need to correct historical injustice is much appreciated by the Bangsamoro, particularly as the death of the BBL in Congress has largely been blamed on the resurfacing of biases and prejudices against the Moro in the aftermath of the January 25 Mamasapano Tragedy.
Duterte filed his certificate of candidacy for reelection as mayor on October 15 last year but opted to substitute for Partido ng Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP-Laban) standard bearer Martin Dino on November 27 after he was dismayed by the 5-4 decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) that Senator Grace Poe was a qualified presidential candidate.
“I am running for President because I am disappointed and sad sa ruling na yan,” Duterte said iin Dasmarianas, Cavite on November 21.
That narrative would change in the next months. On April 26, he told a crowd of civilians and combatants of the New Peoples Army (NPA) in an upland village in Tulunan, North Cotabato that he decided to run for President when he realized that not one among the Presidential candidates was talking about Mindanao and the peace processes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
He said he spoke via Skype the night before with Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, NDF consultant and his former professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines and the latter has committed to come home to talk peace. He said among the first things he would do if becomes President is to immediately declare a ceasefire.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the 64th founding anniversary of M’lang in North Cotabato on August 3, 2015. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
In M’lang, North Cotabato on August 3, 2015, Duterte said the next President of the Philippines will have to deal with the peace processes with the Moro and the NDF but more than just talking peace, he or she should understand the root causes of the conflicts and honor the peace agreements. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)