He's odd but he gets things done, claim his supporters.

Rodrigo Roa Duterte--whose claim to fame is the laudable safety and discipline in Davao City--has proven he's a force to reckon with, making headlines with his irreverent yet quotable statements.

He has earned the monicker "The Punisher" or "Duterte Harry" for admitting links to death squads, and human rights groups loathe the mere idea of him sitting in Malacanang.

Could he be too much to handle or does he embody what Filipinos need in a leader?

There will be several firsts in case Duterte wins the presidency.

First president from Mindanao. First to jump from mayor to president. First professed socialist to win. First septuagenarian (he's 71) chief executive (he'd be the oldest).

Those who know him well say his bark is worse than his bite, and that many of his controversial remarks during the campaign were just meant to win over the crowds and dominate the headlines.

If the pre-election surveys hold, Mindanao is going to deliver big margins for him. Around 60% of Mindanao voters are expected to support him, a clear sign of discontent in the south.

A plurality of 33% or one-third of the electorate, however, is not really a strong mandate to push for the major reforms he wants such as federalism, peace talks with Communist rebels, promotion of LGBT rights, end to labor contractualization, death penalty restoration, among others. Joseph Estrada had a stronger mandate at 40%.

The Duterte camp will have to build a political coalition, akin to the so-called "rainbow coalition" of Fidel V. Ramos back in 1992 (FVR won with a plurality of 23%), if he wants "pagbabago" or change. Duterte's political skills in winning over congressmen and senators are going to be tested. It may help that he's a former congressman.

He will need strong support from the military if he wants to clinch a peace deal with the CPP-NPA-NDF. He'll also need to repair ties with leaders of the Catholic church.

His promise to show results in 3 to 6 months in improving peace and order will largely depend on his approaches and appointments to the police, justice department and the other offices related to the criminal justice system. His background as a prosecutor may help. Failure to show results in the short term will lead to quick disappointment.

It remains to be seen which policies he'll be "copying" from his rivals. Political and economic uncertainty will lie ahead if Duterte makes it, especially since his new nemesis Senator Antonio Trillanes has already vowed to file an impeachment complaint against him if he becomes president.


Topics Related to Rodrigo Duterte


(ABS-CBN News, Based on Research by ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group)

Born in Maasin, Southern Leyte on March 28, 1945 to Vicente and Soledad Duterte, Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte is currently among Philippines' most colorful politicians.

He likes to curse and made people wonder whether he would be running or not. He eventually found a way to file a certificate of candidacy for president, long after the deadline has been set.

But decades prior to being under the national spotlight, Duterte led a somehow rebellious life, spending seven years in high school.

The young Duterte took seven years to finish high school after being expelled from the Ateneo de Davao due to misconduct. He was then sent by his father to a distant school in Digos City, the Holy Cross of Digos, where he eventually finished his secondary education.

He later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1968 from the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila before earning his law degree from San Beda College in 1972. He passed the bar the same year.


Duterte worked at the City Prosecution Office of Davao City from 1977-1986, first as a Special Counsel, and later as City Prosecutor. He was also a Lecturer on Criminal Law, Criminal Evidence and Criminal Procedure at the Police Academy of Regional Training Center XI.

In 1986, Duterte was appointed OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City by President Corazon Aquino.

Now, Duterte has been Mayor of Davao City for a cumulative total of 20 years now: 1988-1998 (three consecutive terms), 2001-2010 (three consecutive terms); and 2013-present.

During the years when he was not mayor, he became Representative of the 1st District of Davao City from 1998-2001 (one term); and Vice Mayor from 2010-2013 (also for one term) while his daughter Sara was Mayor.

In 2002, he was appointed anti-crime consultant by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who lauded his efforts to combat crime and drug trade in Davao City.


Source: Rodrigo Duterte’s sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth from 2001-2014 (from RNG Davao)

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Duterte is known for his unorthodox ways of governance, particularly in enforcing law and order. He has advocated for the “killing” of criminals, especially drug pushers. In 2002, as he assumed the role of the anti-crime consultant of the Arroyo administration, he was quoted as saying: "The intention of the criminals is to instill fear in their victims and kill them. What should we do, but kill them also."

He has been suspected of being involved with the so-called “Davao Death Squad,” a group that is said to be behind vigilante killings in the city. In May 2015, he admitted his “ties” to the death squad, but backtracked days later, saying the “DDS” he is referring to is “Davao Development System.” His style has been praised by ordinary citizens and anti-crime advocates, but human rights activists have denounced it. He was accused by former Human Rights Commission Chair Loretta Ann Rosales of not lifting a finger to address the killings, while human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, criticized him for tolerating the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals in the city.

In its 2012 report, the CHR reported that it “recommended that the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) investigate the possible administrative and criminal liability of Mayor Duterte for his inaction in the face of evidence of numerous killings committed in Davao City and his toleration of the commission of those offenses.” It also reported that the victims of the killings were usually involved or suspected to have been involved in some type of illegal activity while the assailants were usually motorcycle-riding gunmen.

However, on March 2012, the Ombudsman did not charge Duterte for the unabated killings in Davao City attributed to the Davao Death Squad. Only the 21 high-ranking officers of the Philippine National Police were penalized for simple neglect of duty, for which they were fined an amount equivalent to one month’s salary.

The case stemmed from a letter-complaint addressed to the Office of the Ombudsman sent by a person purporting to represent a group named Davao City Deserves Good Government Movement, claiming that a certain group known as the DDS was “responsible for the unsolved killings of more than 800 persons.” The same complaint alleged that high-ranking officers of the PNP were directly involved in the murders.”

“The OMB-MOLEO (Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices) fact-finding team reported that from 2005-2008, there were 720 persons murdered; 97 in 2005; 165 in 2006; 199 in 2007 and 259 in 2008. A mere 321 or less than 50% of the cases, however, were solved. The killings were repeatedly committed within the areas of jurisdiction of respondents’ precincts where they were assigned.”

Unsolved killings in Davao City from 2005-2008

Year      No. of unsolved killings
2005      97
2006 165
2007 199
2008 259
Total 720
No. of cases solved 321 or less than 50% of the total no. of unsolved killings



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Aside from his ‘Dirty Harry’ image, Duterte is also known for his ‘good relationship’ with the New People’s Army. Last year, Duterte allowed a hero’s burial for Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao in Davao City. And in many instances, the NPA released its prisoners of war to the tough-talking mayor: the most recent of which was Army Corporal Adriano Bingil, who was freed on December 31, 2015.


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In July 2015, Duterte made headlines when, during a guesting at the late night TV talk show “Gandang Gabi, Vice,” he declared his support for LGBT rights and for same-sex marriage. In 2009, he condemned the Commission on Elections when it rejected the application of gay rights group Ang Ladlad to participate in the party-list system. Davao City also passed an Anti-Discrimination ordinance in 2012, banning discrimination against LBGT people, minority groups and differently abled persons.


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In November 2015, during his speech when he was formally declared PDP-Laban standard-bearer, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came under fire for cursing at Pope Francis after he allegedly got caught in a traffic jam during the Catholic leader's visit in the Philippines in January. He later backtracked and said the expletive was not directed at the pope.


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Political track record

  • He was first appointed OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City by Pres. Corazon Aquino in 1986, after the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos
  • He has been Mayor of Davao City for a cumulative total of 20 years now: 1988-1998 (three consecutive terms), 2001-2010 (three consecutive terms); and 2013-present
  • During the years when he was not mayor, he became Representative of the 1st District of Davao City from 1998-2001 (one term); and Vice Mayor from 2010-2013 (also for one term) while his daughter Sara was Mayor
  • In 2002, he was appointed anti-crime consultant by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who lauded his efforts to combat crime and drug trade in Davao City.

Political Party Affiliation through the years:

  • In 2004 and 2007, Duterte ran for Mayor of Davao City under PDP-LABAN
  • In 2010, he ran for Vice Mayor of Davao City under the Liberal Party while his daughter Sara ran for Mayor under PDP-LABAN
  • In 2013, Duterte ran again for Mayor of Davao City, this time under the party Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod. His son Paolo ran for vice mayor under the same party.