Will Outsider Become Philippine President?
It is time to celebrate in Davao City, and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hopes the current festivities are only the beginning. Every March, for one week, crowds gather in the city streets to enjoy parades and fireworks in a tribute to local ethnic groups. This March, Duterte, who has served for 22 years as mayor of the capital of Mindanao, the southernmost principal island of the Philippines, wants to excite the crowds for another reason. Will outsider become Philippine president?
The annual celebration of local culture, called Araw Ng Dabaw in Tagalog, lasts from the 15th until the 23rd of March, and this year the festival coincides with the run-up to elections for president and vice president in the Philippines. Duterte wants to use the occasion to generate momentum for his bid to become the next president of the Southeast Asian nation.
A recent poll of voters across the islands of the Philippine archipelago reveals Duterte as the last choice among the leading candidates, behind Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay, and Mar Roxas. Two other, recent national polls show the mayor either is the leading candidate or shares the position with Poe. Duterte believes he can win the race. People are responding to his candidacy because of his accomplishments in Davao, particularly his success in transforming the city from the murder capital of the Philippines into one of the safest areas in the world. They also point to his progressive policies during his tenure as mayor of Davao City, including the so-called Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Law, and a Women Development Code.
Will Outsider Become Philippine President? Rodrigo Believes He Is the One to Do it
Duterte understands his challenge: to sell Filipinos on his proposal for a new power-sharing structure in the Philippines. He wants to break the island nation into a collection of semi-autonomous regions. When each of the regions controls its own budget, each will have the funds necessary to provide a basic infrastructure for its citizens. The call for federalism has become the rallying cry of Duterte’s campaign. Last Wednesday, the second day of the Davao Day festival, Duterte appeared on a stage before 20,000 people in Freedom Park in downtown Davao. As the crowd cheered and pressed forward, Duterte pointed in the direction of the slums lining the shore of the Gulf of Davao. They were a testament to the poverty deeply entrenched across the Philippine archipelago.
At 71, Duterte knows he does not have much time left in public office. But he promises to reform the existing political system of the Philippines, if elected president. He blames the system, in which the capital city, Manila, dominates the nation of 100 million people and forces most of them to live in poverty. Duterte told the masses: “Keep Calm, Change is Coming.” Will outsider become Philippine president?