BY ROGER M. BALANZA
It is only God that is standing in the way of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and a presidential run in 2016.
For the first time, reluctant candidate Duterte took a reverse from his erstwhile stand he is not running for the presidency, saying that he was now waiting for a “divine signal” from God before formally baring his plan about the presidency.
“I am a Christian and I have a deep love and faith in God. I know life is governed by the rules of God. I should know, because in the past, that’s what I did. I direct my prayers to God and asked for guidance,” Duterte told the media in Butuan City at a press conference on January 21 after speaking before a large multi-sector crowd at the Dona Ynez Convention Center about Federalism as a form of government.
Duterte’s speaking engagement in Butuan City was the start of the Mindanao leg of a series of nationwide consultations on Federalism.
Duterte said it should be God’s will if he should become President.
I am constantly praying to God for guidance and enlightenment because becoming a president is “shaped by destiny and God’s will,” Duterte said.
Duterte, also famous for his humor as for his no-mercy anti-crime campaign, jestingly spiced up the interview with what signs he expects from God.
“The divine signal could come at any day and in any form. It could even be a woman,” Duterte joked.
I don’t want to enter Malacañang without a First Lady, he said.
Duterte is legally separated from wife, Elizabeth Zimmermann, mother to Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and former Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
In his speech at the Dona Ynez Convention Center, Duterte left no room for his large audience to doubt that he has changed his mind about not running for President, when Duterte took a “presidential” stand and detailed what he would do “if he becomes the President.”
Duterte said there would be “swift and immediate reforms” under a Duterte presidency.
I would rule with common sense and a good heart if God allows me to be the next leader of the country, he said.
I do not have the brilliance of the late President Ferdinand Marcos nor the smartness of former President Fidel Ramos or the abilities of Senator Miriam Santiago. But if I become president, I will rule with common sense and a good heart, he said.
Duterte said there is no ambition in his presidential bid but to see government working well and Filipinos living in peace.
If I join the presidential derby, my motivation would not be ambition but a burning desire to realize my vision for the country, he said.
This is my promise: if God wills that I become president of the Philippines, there will be swift and immediate reforms that will bring about genuine good governance and peace and order throughout the land, he said.
SHIFT TO FEDERALISM
If he becomes President, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said a shift to Federalism would be a top priority.
If I will become the president, before my term is over I will have federalism as the new form of government, said during a multi-sector gathering at the Dona Ynez Convention Center in Butuan City.
Duterte is on a nation-wide tour to lure support for his advocacy on a shift to a federal form of government.
In December, Duterte led the launching of a Federal Movement during the Summit on Federalism in Davao City attended by nearly 1,000 delegates from all over the country. Duterte believes that Federalism would be the answer to the decades-old Moro and communist insurgency, equitable distribution of national wealth.
He said the federated regions would retain their share of taxes rather than send them to the Manila government to be lost to corruption.
The concept of Federalism as a form of government has long been hoped by Mindanaoans and the Bisaya for decades over the Manila government’s apparent lack of focus on Central and Southern Philippines.
Stopping graft and corruption is on top of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda as President.
The first task is to put an end to corruption, Duterte said in a speaking engagement in Butuan City.
With corruption embedded in the Philippines bureaucracy—from ordinary employees up to lawmakers—Duterte said he would use strong-arm approaches to eliminate the corrupt in government.
He said he would first ask them to resign or have them arrested if they refuse.
Duterte’s strong stand against corruption became national news when he appeared last year in a Senate hearing on massive rice smuggling in the country.
In the hearing covered by national television, Duterte told Senators that he would “kill” rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan if he steps foot in Davao City to unload contraband rice.
He told the hearing that officials of the Bureau of Customs and the National Food Authority were involved in the smuggling.
Duterte’s Senate appearance, and the miracle he has done to Davao City during his 20-year rule, were among many factors that sparked public calls for him to run for President in 2016.