MY TURN| The Political Crisis Of President Duterte

DURING the February 26, 1986 EDSA revolt; Pres. Cory Aquino removed many public officials. She appointed as Davao City’s Mayor and Vice Mayor Zaf Respicio and Gilbert Abellera respectively. Abellera was replaced by Mr. Dumadag, who later resigned because he planned to run as Surigao’s Governor. Rodrigo Duterte became the third appointive Vice Mayor. He and Mayor Respicio disagreed on how the city should be administered. After the 1986 Freedom Constitution was replaced in 1987 by the Constitution we now have, Pres. Cory called for election of local officials. The Cory group in Davao led by Luis Santos and Chito Ayala picked Respicio for Mayor. Mayor Lopez, Assemblymen, Nonoy Garcia and Alejandro Almendras knew they would lose if they ran for Mayor because the Marcos Martial Law period was still fresh in the people’s mind and they were identified with Marcos. Those whom they asked refused for reasons: Cory’s name carried weight, the Santos and Ayala team backed by the Floirendo group and the Sta Ana business men (the richest in Mindanao) plus the government machinery was the strongest political power Davao had ever seen. The last hope of the three was Vice Mayor Duterte. Rodrigo wanted to run for Mayor because he believed he could manage Davao better than Respicio but he had limited resources. Sammy Uy, a client when he was still in private practice, Uy’s brother-in-law Ed Bonguyan and Robert Limso were the only Sta Ana business men who said if you run we will support you. Their resources were less than one percent of the Sta Ana business man resources allied with Santos and Ayala. Rodrigo had two aces which his opponents forgot. Rodrigo’s father, Atty. Vicente Duterte of Danao, Cebu, won as governor of Davao Province in 1959 and 1963 when city voters could vote for the governor. The elder Duterte was humble, unassuming and was honest. No stain of scandal ever dirtied the Governor. The united family, through the mother, said if you will run, fight to win; we will support you kutob sa mahimo. The second ace was: Lopez, Garcia and Almendras though with limited resources had the political skill experience and a well-entrenched group. Duterte’s campaign was low key. Very few in 1988 believed he would win. One of the few that backed him were his M.C. (Mindanao Colleges) classmates/barkada. Without pay, using their own guns, Henry Adriano, Naldo Logan, Popoy Gempesaw, a policemen, Dodong, who moonlighted to help Duterte and Ed Barza became his first closed in bodyguards. Their campaign vehicle was Ed Barza’s Toyota Landcruiser with Barza as the driver. Sometimes, Ed would use his own money to pay for fuel.

While campaigning in Calinan, a big NPA group stopped them. Duterte talked to the NPA who allowed them to go but the policeman must stay. Duterte said I cannot leave him behind. Ako’y nagkuha kaniya ug nagpasalig ko sa iyang Misis nga ibalik ko siya kauban. After a tense negotiation, they were allowed to go. This created the story that Duterte will never never abandon his friends. Duterte with the same bodyguards campaigned in the Binugao-Sirawan barangay which had many Kalagan and Tagacaolo settlers (Muslim). A dreaded MNLF Commander from Sirawan threatened them if they will campaign in these places.

            Again, he had an ace, his father won in Binugao and Sirawan in the 1959 and 1963 elections for governor. His mother had Muslim blood and the Dabawenyo Muslims know it. The place where the rally was held was about 500 meters from the highway; it was lonely isolated dark place one you get in, you can get out only using the same road. When the rally began, there were repeated gun burst. Duterte did not stop his speech so the crowd, though frightened stayed. After the rally, he asked how long they can fight. Henry and Naldo had long firearms but only 4 magazines between them, Ed, Popoy and Dong had handguns but each had only one extra magazine. The 10 minute ride back to the highway was a cardiac arrest experience for everyone. The game plan: Almendras will do everything to reduce the expected big lead of Respicio in the first district, Garcia will try to reduce further the lead in the second district, Lopez, with Quirico Ungab’s bol-anons and the Obo, Klata, Bawa, Ata, Matigsalog tribes in Upper Calinan, Paquibato, Buda will give the K.O. punch. The plan worked perfectly. Rodrigo’s win in the third district allowed him to overtake Respicio’s lead. Of his MC classmates/barkada, only Melchor Quitain is still around. Sadly Ed Barza, Naldo Logan, Henry Adriano, Dong, Popoy Gempesaw died of natural causes long before the 2016 elections.

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