Why Duterte won’t run… and why he should

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By Jun Ledesma


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DESPITE the growing clamor for him to run for President, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has time and again said he will not. One has to dig into his psyche to know the reasons why. He is an enigma of some kind, but we must and should understand why he persistently declines the challenge. I will try to explore the inside recesses of the mind and soul of this man who is perceived across the land as the leader needed to save our benighted home land from political decadence and depravity.

Rodrigo Duterte is the son of a Governor of the undivided Davao, Vicente Duterte, whose impeccable honesty is legendary. His mother, Soledad “Nanay Soling” Duterte is a strict disciplinarian and a brave woman who cannot be cowed by centurions of martial law enforcers but has a gentle heart for the poor and the afflicted. The young Rodrigo grew up under the atmosphere of severity of discipline and imbibed the virtue of honesty of his parents. Of course he has his own indiscretions but these go with his generation. Let me skip that.

Duterte was virtually pushed into the political arena by quirks of events. He was an assistant city prosecutor who drove a rickety Volkswagen. At the height of the people’s struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Nanay Soling would consistently join street demonstrations, locking arms with Jesus “Chito” V. Ayala. In the aftermath of the successful revolt, Nanay Soling was offered the Vice City Mayorship but, consistent to her principles, declined it. The post was then offered to the lanky Asst. City Fiscal Duterte who declined but was virtually forced to accept it. It was during the era of the revolutionary government of Cory Aquino and Digong had no other options. The anointed Mayor then was Zaf Respicio. Duterte distanced himself from Zaf. When the first free elections were called, the opposition opted to go for Duterte who for certain was overwhelmed by the turn of events. Respicio, the fair-haired boy of President Cory was perceived to be invincible given the so-called Cory magic at that time, but it was a manifest destiny that Rodrigo Duterte has to become mayor of Davao City. He won by a large majority over Zaf.


Mayor Duterte followed the path of his parents. An enforcer of discipline and fighter against organized crime and drug syndicates, he cleansed the city of drug lords and drug pushers, banned smoking and pyrotechnics, set speed limits. Following the death of kidnapping syndicate and unregistered aliens who operated a shabu laboratory, Duterte issued a warning to criminal elements to either reform or leave the city vertically otherwise they may have to exit horizontally.

As a result of his campaign against syndicated crime, not a few suspects were killed many of whom were silenced by their drug lords who eliminated all links that would led to their identity. His political adversaries were quick to impute the crime to Davao Death Squad, which they attribute to Duterte. The Human Rights Commission acted in haste to prove the complicity of Duterte to pin him on the issue of extra-judicial killings.

Using bloated figures from pan-handling human rights watch which included the victims of the New People’s Army Operations “Zombie” and “Ajos” they rushed to frantically to dig for pieces of evidence. Then CHR Chair Leila De Lima led the exhumation but found none except for a deteriorating skeletal remains which the Court threw out for being a polluted piece of evidence. Later when Etta Rosales assumed as CHR Chair, she too wanted to indict Duterte for the killing of three members of Quezon City-based Kidnap-for-ransom syndicate who brought their quarry to Davao City.

Rosales, viewing a video and seeing the slouched lifeless bodies of kidnappers, exclaimed that what Duterte and the Davao City police did was plain murder. To her chagrin, the PNP authorities gave accolade to the mayor and the police operatives who battled it out with the suspects. Indeed, it is ironic that while the victims of crimes and the community were celebrating for eliminating members of the syndicates, the Commission of Human Rights filed cases against Duterte and police enforcers.

Of late, Mayor Duterte was summoned in a Senate hearing to identify the brains against rice smuggling in the country. The mayor pointed his finger at David Tan alias “David Bangayan”. Having done that, the leader of smuggling syndicate should have been placed behind bars and charge of unbailable offense, but by some shameless twist of events DOJ charged him instead of pilferage of cables thus allowing a bail bond.

Amidst the corruption and scandals involving PDAF and DAP heists by officials in the totem pole of power and influence the decibels in the calls for Duterte to run for President have increased. But Duterte says he is not running. Warring political leaders from Mindanao cast away their animosities and together persuaded him to run. There were talks that businessmen from the National Capital Region have sent feelers to Digong assuring him their support if he runs. But he politely declined.

But why? The answer is in his vision of what kind of President he said he will be. Someone, which he said is not what a traditional leader we had elected to govern the nation. He said he cannot be President because he is one that human rights activists will abhor and one who will likely be hated by the present crop of politicians. Indeed, those who wish Duterte would run should be careful for what they wish for.

Given the malignant cancer the nation is inflicted with, Duterte minced no words that if he will be elected President he will:

1. Declare a revolutionary government.

2. Immediately abolish Congress as it has become the spawning ground of corruption.

3. Retire all military and police generals and reduce their numbers from 128 to only 25. They will be given substantial separation pay and benefits.

4. Double the salaries of all military and police enlisted men however impose death penalty for those who will engage in corruption.

5. Double salaries of teachers

6. Neutralize all criminal syndicates.

7. Privatized national government controlled corporation including
SSS, GSIS and other banking and finance institution.

8. Invite CPP/NPA to join the government allocating to them Cabinet positions among them the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Social Welfare.

9. Establish a Federal form of government to address perennial conflicts and to strengthen regional communities. In Mindanao, for example, the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-tawi will be one state, Lanao Provinces a separate state; Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City a separate state; Davao provinces to include Comval a distinct state and Cebu, Leyte and Samar into a state to name a few.

The life of the revolutionary government will be for four years only after which a free election will be held. Duterte then will fade from the scene and go back to his simple home in a low-cost subdivision.

Given that vision of a political scenario under a Duterte government, will those who are egging Duterte to run and those promising support, persist and make the supreme sacrifice? Duterte thinks not a few who promised him support would back off. And that is the reason why he would rather not run.

Me, I will give him my vote of confidence, not so much for me but for my children and the future generation. And this to me is the compelling reason why he must run.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 12, 2014.


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