BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong that should he run for president and win in 2016, there will be no room for him to fail.
Duterte was in Hong Kong on Sunday, May 17, as Guest Speaker of the Special Thanksgiving and Worship Presentation of the Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name congregation of international televangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
Duterte is looming as a presidentiable after landing third behind front-runner Vice President Jejomar Binay and second placer Senator Grace Poe in the latest survey for presidential preference by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia.
But Duterte reminded some 5,000 overseas Filipino workers gathered at the Southern Stadium in Wan Chai, not to be influenced by popularity surveys in choosing the next President.
“Do not ever rely on surveys. What we should look for is who can solve our country’s problems, particularly on illegal drugs and criminality,” Duterte told the crowd.
Duterte is widely known for his iron-fist campaign against drugs and criminality in his city that has been recently tagged as the 9th safest city in the world by user-based website Numbeo.com
The Hong Kong event also doubled up as the first overseas edition of Duterte’s “Listening Tour,” a series of speaking engagements and forums where the mayor advocates a shift to a federal form of government. Started late last year, the tour has morphed into a barometer for Duterte to feel public pulse on a presidential run and as venue to speak on what he would do if he is president.
The widely-attended Tour has already gone to key cities in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.
“If ever I run for president, I cannot afford to be a failure after my 6 years in office. So if it is His will for me to run, then God help me,” Duterte said.
Duterte told his audience that his administration’s fight against illegal drugs in the last 20 years was both to protect young people from becoming drug abusers and from becoming victims of drug addicts.
Many of these young people, he said, are children of OFWs.
“ Many OFWs around the world leave home in order to eke out a living only to go back home with children lost to drug addiction,” he said.
Duterte had been sending mixed signals about his presidential bid always saying he has no intention of seeking the highest post in government.
His close aides however say Duterte is waiting for results of June surveys to make an announcement on whether he would run or not.
In the meanwhile, Duterte goes around the provinces, holding forums on why federalism would solve the country’s peace and order problems, in the process getting wide public exposure as a presidential candidate even as the election is still a year ahead.
In his speeches, Duterte covers a wide range of issues that are mostly presidential stuff, from how he will deal with the Moro and communist insurgency and other pressing national issues – including how to deal with China and its incursion into Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.
Some quarters see Duterte as the Liberal Party’s wild card bet, in case the survey ratings of the ruling party’s presumed standard-bearer, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, don’t improve.