Rodrigo Roa Duterte: President of many firsts

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 June) – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who will take his oath as the 16th President of the Philippines, is a President of many firsts.

The 71-year old Duterte voted by 16.6 million Filipinos, is the first Mindanawon to lead the country (Luzon had 12, Visayas three).

Duterte is also the first City Mayor to win the Presidency. Joseph Estrada was also a city mayor but he was elected Senator and later Vice President before finally becoming President in 1998.

But there’s more to Duterte’s firsts.

According to the “Presidency and Vice Presidency by the Numbers” published by the Presidential Museum Library (, Duterte is also the first

  • President born in Maasin, Leyte.
  • President to be elected in his 70s. He is 71 years old, the oldest to assume the Presidency.
  • President to be nationally elected without a previous national position. Emilio Aguinaldo was not popularly elected, as he was only elected by the Malolos Congress in September 1898.
  • City prosecutor (fiscal) to become President. He was Special Counsel for the City Prosecution Office of Davao City (1977 – 1979), Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor (1979 – 1981), Third Assistant City Prosecutor (1981 – 1983), and Second Assistant City Prosecutor (1983 – 1986). He was, however, the third fiscal elected to the presidency. Manuel L. Quezon served as Provincial Fiscal of Mindoro in 1903 and Provincial Fiscal of Tayabas in 1904. Sergio Osmeña was Provincial Fiscal of Cebu from 1904 to 1905.
  • President who previously served as a vice mayor (OIC in 1986 and elected in 2010).
  • President to have studied in San Beda College of Law. He obtained his Law degree in 1972.
  • President to have studied in the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, Major in Political Science in 1968.
  • President to have his marriage annulled. He was married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman from 1973 to 2001. His current partner is Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña.
  • President from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN).
  • Duterte and Robredo form the first geographically “balanced” (North-South or Luzon-Visayas/Mindanao) President and Vice President in the Fifth Republic, with Duterte, who is from Davao City, representing the South while Robredo, a native of Camarines Sur, represents the North. However, they ran on different party tickets. The last geographically balanced pair was the Nacionalista Party ticket of Ferdinand E. Marcos (Ilocos Norte) and Fernando Lopez (Iloilo) in 1965.
  • President who rides motorcycles.

Duterte served as mayor of Davao City for 22 years – 1988 to 1998, 2001 to 2010 and 2010 to 2013. He served as vice mayor twice (OIC from 1986 to 1987; elected from 2010 to 2013) and represented the first district of Davao City in Congress from 1998 to 2001.

Duterte never lost an election since he ran for mayor in 1988. (MindaNews)