DAVAO CITY – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed he would put up a stronger fight against criminality should he seek higher office in the May 2016 elections.
While Duterte has not yet declared an intention to run for president or vice president, he said he considers his fight against crime in Davao City the “crowning glory” of his political career. He has been city mayor for more than 20 years.
“Davao used to be a very, very troubled place,” Duterte said, adding that at one time two to three policemen were killed every day.
“Somehow, I was able to talk things out with everybody,” he added.
When Duterte was first elected mayor in 1988, Davao City was considered the murder capital of Mindanao. Under his watch, peace and order vastly improved such that Davao was cited by crowd-sourced rating site Numbeo.com as the fifth safest city in the world.
Duterte wants secessionist movements in the country to stop because a lasting peace is a prerequisite for sustainable economic progress.
Last week, Duterte asked exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to give up the armed struggle being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA) and in exchange, he would consider running for president.
Duterte said he was having dinner with the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who were newly assigned to the Davao region when he received the telephone call from Sison, now based in the Netherlands.
Sison asked Duterte if he could travel to Europe before the 2016 elections.
“He also said he would like to talk to me and ask me about my plans for 2016,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he told Sison that he was not planning to go to Europe anytime soon and that he is not yet 100 percent sure of running for president.
“The presidency is not an easy job. You have the secessionists in the Southern Philippines and you have the NPAs all over the country. But if the rebel groups are willing to give up the armed struggle under my watch, I might consider,” he said in Filipino.
“Armed struggle as a means to achieve change is passé in the modern world we are living in today… Over 40 years of armed struggle and thousands of lives lost are too much to bear… In the modern world we live in today, you would look ridiculous carrying guns and hope to effect change in society through violence… The armed struggle is simply misplaced idealism,” he added.