A post written by former SEC chairman, Perfecto Yasay Jr. relates how he has known Rody “Digong” Duterte since the time they were roommates at the YMCA dormitory in law school. He was at first startled by the curses that flowed naturally from Digong’s mouth, but later was able to accept him for who he was, just as he accepted many other people in his life with their own failings and shortcomings.
Yasay continues, “But more significant than his frequent foul language that can be annoying to many, I know Rody up close as a person with a big heart and noble vision, who truly respects the dignity in every human being, especially the poor, the needy and oppressed whom he cares, loves and readily helps with devotion, consistency, integrity and sincerity and inspired by the same Christian values that many of us hold dear. I have learned to greatly respect him as a dedicated, honest, brave and decisive leader that our country needs for its survival at this critical time and to make meaningful change and advancement a reality.”
I wonder why some people detest Duterte so much. And I realized that perhaps, like Yasay, they are initially turned off by his brashness, his impropriety, his casual manner of talking about killing criminals, his womanizing, and so on. Unlike Yasay, though, they did not have the opportunity to really know the person, and people tend to fear what they do not know.
I and my fellow Dabawenyos can attest to what Duterte has done, who he really is, and where his heart really lies. Do not judge him based on the flaws that media so loves to hype during these campaign times. Judge him by the stories that Dabawenyos themselves tell. After all, he has been our mayor for most of the past 3 decades. We should know.
I, myself, have a story to tell.
One of the store managers of the pharmacy that we operate reported an incident with one of the mayor’s men. He had been instructed to purchase Mayor Duterte’s medicine and wanted to claim the senior citizen’s discount. However, he had forgotten to bring the mayor’s senior citizen’s ID. When he was informed about it, he said, “Naku patay ako kay mayor nito. Sinabi na nga nyang dalhin ko ang requirements eh. Sige, balik ako agad, miss. (Oh no, the mayor did remind me to bring the requirements. I’ll be back quickly, miss).” It was that simple. No power play. No bending the rules.
Some of my friends and contacts have also shared their Duterte stories in social media. Let me share some of them.
My former teacher, Dennis Rivamonte, writes: “Some time ago, in Manila, I met a guy who claimed to be the contractor for the SM City Davao. He told me that he was so amazed and proud of Mayor Duterte. When I asked him why, he told me that unlike in other cities where he built SM Malls, it was only in Davao City where he did not experience being approached by a city official to ask for ‘big personal favors’ from SM management. Worried that the mayor might one day appear to ask for favors, just when mall was about to operate, and when he might find it difficult to say no, this contractor decided to see the mayor personally to ask if the he had any ‘special personal requests’ from the SM management. To his surprise, Mayor Duterte said, ‘Yes! I have one big personal request, a great big favor to ask from the management. When you start to take in applicants for employment, please give priority to the Dabawenyos.’ That was it. He did not ask for anything other than that. And that was enough to amaze this contractor and to declare that our Davao City Mayor is not corrupt.”
My friend, Alice Cadao, writes, “I was born in the year 1978 in Davao City and lived just meters away from his home in Bangkal. As a kid, I would hear stories about his generosity but it was not until I was already around 28 years old that I had personally witnessed how genuine this man really is. I had the privilege to work as a Production Officer for ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. and a correspondent for Bantay Bata 163 Davao. My partner and I would produce material that usually featured an ailing child who either needed an immediate operation or an expensive medical treatment. Through local TV Patrol Davao in the afternoon, the said feature stories were aired for broadcast. The material would run for just around 2 minutes but before it was done, our office would already receive a call. ‘Si Mayor na daw mag-shoulder sa expense sa medication sa bata. (The mayor will shoulder that kid’s expenses).’ This was done without fanfare, without broadcast, without photo-ops or any publicity. Mind you, I cannot anymore count the number of children that he has helped through our program. Also, it was not a requirement that the parents were his constituents or his voters. He did not mind even if the child came from Tagum, Mati, Gensan or Cotabato. The important thing was that he was able to help.
Aldwin Dumago, a bank officer, writes, “He is known for his unpopular decisions. Most often we’d hate his orders, but we eventually come to realize he’s right. Why spend so much money on fireworks and firecrackers if only to rush victims to hospitals after? Can we not celebrate Christmas and New Year without emergency cases? Why suffer from second-hand smoke? Why shoo away the indigenous people when they are the original settlers of Davao and Mindanao? Who doesn’t want a taxi ride with Mayor Rody? I don’t feel afraid of Mayor Rody because I’m not doing anything wrong. The moment the plane lands in Davao, I know I am safe. I know that when I take the cab, the driver will bring me to my destination safely and will give me exact change. I know that in case of emergency, I will only have to call 911.”
Another good friend, Manolo del Rosario, an executive of Emcor, writes, “We Dabawenyos know him better than the rest of the country. He’s the guy who goes out to do traffic in the rain, drives incognito as a taxi driver at night and commends a traffic enforcer for flagging him down on a traffic violation. He’s the man who cries when he sees cancer-stricken kids, slaps abusive policemen, and has no tolerance for societal scalawags. He’s the man who, despite budget constrictions, managed to convince the private sector to share resources and assets to create the only 911 system in the country. If the rest of the country doesn’t want him, then at least leave to us what is ours — our hard-earned tax revenues. That way Davao can soar as high as we want to, implement our city development plan (yes we have that, first in the country, but we lacked the budget to implement it) and not be hampered by others who do not share in our vision of a safe, clean, modern and progressive environment for our children.”
My former student, George Cordero, writes,”Listen, I went to college in Davao. Ever since, I wished the other Filipino cities I lived in were as disciplined and safe as Davao City. All this talk about being afraid of Duterte? What do you have to fear if you aren’t a lawbreaker? I have nothing but respect and admiration for the man and his will and sincerity. In a way, I think it’s good to see that his critics have nothing on him except their ‘moral high ground’, and fears of an imagined dictatorship that is truly such a stupid notion.”
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.