Morning News USA was among the very first publications that compared now president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to White House hopeful Donald Trump. But as the Philippine election draw to a close, and he continues to lead by a huge margin – more than 6 million – from his rivals, this means something about the trust that Filipinos cast upon the controversial candidate.
Before becoming the first president to garner the highest number of votes –15, 970, 000 as of press time – in a presidential elections in the Philippines, Duterte is a beloved mayor to his constituents in Davao City.
Davao is dubbed as one of the most livable cities in Asia by the Asia Week Magazine and the lone Philippine city to ever make it to the top 20 list.
On winning the highest position in the land, Alger Dura, a veteran Filipino journalist, who is based in Davao City told Morning News USA what he liked the most about Duterte.
“I like the character of President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte because he is a charismatic and disciplinarian type of leader. And to mention a few, I supported his landmark legislation in Davao City such as anti-smoking, firecracker and liquor ban ordinances. Undeniably the people of Davao have benefited from these ordinances under his administration,” Dura said.
Dura added that Duterte’s good heart to serve the poor and to his constituents overpowers the image of a tough-talking public official that people outside Davao City are trying to portray of him.
Asked what the best character that made Duterte unique among the other candidates who also vied for the highly-coveted position, Dura said, “On corruption issue, the good mayor has never been charged in court, hence, the Filipinos are hoping that the next president is not corrupt. To my mind, he has good record and leadership was the basis of 15 million voters who wanted him to lead the Philippines.”
Celeste Paraiso, a housewife from Panabo City, a neighboring city of Davao likewise said Duterte’s ‘simple’ character appealed to her.
“Duterte is a simple man. Service oriented, helpful, and disciplinarian,” Paraiso added.
Morning News USA has in fact came across a Facebook post made a year ago from one residents of Davao. In the photo, Duterte was seen driving a cab late at night.
The photo was taken by a commuter who happened to hail the cab Duterte was driving at the time.
“A Mayor’s salary is not enough. That’s why I drove a taxi every night for supplementary needs,” Duterte told the commuter when asked why he was driving at the time. He added: “I wanted to see the image of Davao City in my own eyes. I drove a taxi and stop by random street corners. So if I caught you doing something wrong, GOOD LUCK.” (see photo below)
Few days before the election, Duterte made headlines when he arrived for an engagement wearing shoes with one loose sole. According to him, someone stepped on his shoe, hence the mishap. How old could the shoe be?
Just recently, Duterte became the third Filipino personality to ever be featured by one of the most prestigious publications in the world, Time magazine on its cover page.
The lowly mayor of Davao City is Time’s May 23 cover with a title ‘The Punisher: Why Rodrigo Duterte is the Philippine’s new leader’. The same magazine coined the title ‘The Punisher’ for this Southern Philippines mayor when they featured him in an article in 2002.
Based on the latest partial and unofficial counting of votes, Duterte is approaching the 16-million mark of votes, the most number of votes ever garnered by a Philippine president during the elections. He got more than six million votes from his closest contender, former local government secretary Mar Roxas.
Reacting on the recent feature of Time on Duterte, the outgoing administration, through the presidential secretary Herminio Coloma, said it only shows that the country’s local political scene interests the international community.
“As one of the leading news publications in the world, Time magazine has an interest in our country’s political development,” Coloma was quoted as saying by the Philippine Star via the Yahoo News SG.
Coloma was referring to the May 23 issue of Time Magazine Asia. It’s the same publication that featured late Philippine President Corazon Aquino three times and her only son, then senator and the country’s outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.
In a separate article from Time, Duterte is considered as the ‘wildcard’ in the line up of world leaders. In the same article, where five reasons were laid out why Duterte is the country’s next leader, the mayor-turned president is seen to be a game changer in different global issues, especially the highly contested issue in the South China Sea. Duterte has earlier said he’s open to the possibility of multilateral talks between China and other claimant countries.