Plain green house is Philippines' new power center

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY - A dust-covered Santa Claus and a shotgun ornament hung on the garage of a light green house in a sleepy neighborhood here, giving almost no indication that its main occupant is poised to become the most powerful man in the Philippines.

Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte has lived in the same wood and brick structure in the middle-class village of Dona Luisa for two decades, according to his neighbors, who are awestruck that the man on the street corner won Monday's balloting by a landslide.

Unlike politicians who live in fortresses with barbed wire fences and guard towers, Duterte's house, which he shares with partner Honeylet Avancena, is easily accessible to both pedestrians and cats from the unpaved street.

"He's a very good man, simple and ordinary," said 75-year-old Pio Alison, who lives in a much bigger white house across from the mayor's.

"He would come out everyday in simple clothes. Sometimes, he lets us inside his house," the retired glass factory worker told ABS-CBN News.

Alison's 43-year-old businesswoman daughter, Arlene, said Duterte would greet his father everyday in the vernacular: "Maayong buntag, Tatay."

Last New Year's Eve, Duterte mingled with his neighbors, posing for photographs wearing only a white t-shirt, jogging pants and slippers.

"He has no pretensions. That's why we are very hurt when people criticize him," she told ABS-CBN News.

Duterte sleeps on a simple mattress that is fitted with a mosquito net that is commonly used by the poor.

Duterte, the night owl, starts his day after noon, according to his neighbors, and would leave his house on his pick up truck without a flurry of police escorts.

"I'm proud that the next president of the Philippines is our neighbor," 19-year-old college student Rejane Rival told ABS-CBN News.

Rival said she planned to work in one of the call centers in the city.

Duterte, who has vowed a "bloody war" against crime, campaigned around the country in jeans and a simple button-down shirt. He once remarked during a presidential debate that he was not used to wearing a barong tagalog.

He told reporters on Monday that he would rather come home to Davao City every night to sleep rather than stay in Malacanang Palace.

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