BY ROGER M. BALANZA The acronym DDS is morbid, means the Davao Death Squad, the dreaded shadowy gunmen almost always blamed when a criminal is gunned down.
Dabawenyos trumpet their city as one of the most livable and safest cities in the world and would have no qualms about saying that the DDS helped in curbing down criminality. The apparent public tolerance has been assailed by human rights group as part of the culture of violence being allegedly cultivated by police and the local government under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte whom they say are behind the vigilante killers. But the Davao public does not care. The DDS stirs fear and criminals leave the city before they are shot to death. For those who remain to terrorize the city, their days of vertical living are counted. Soon, the police or the DDS would catch up and consign them to another dimension, dead and horizontal six feet under the ground. But there is another DDS in Davao City. Unlike the DDS armed with .45s, this DDS does not shoot people but targets plans, programs and strategies for social and economic development. This DDS is the Duterte Development System (DDS). Like the sweet-shooting killer DDS, this other DDS has no face but has an omnipresence in the life of the Dabawenyos. This DDS is a matrix of people, working together or alone to contribute to the over-all mission of goodness for their city. It is a faceless concept of collaboration and cooperation among the Davao public, the bureaucracy, the business sector and other grooupings with the common vision to make their city fly. The DDS is the CityENRO street sweeper (aka DDS or Dala Dala Silhig in Bisdak) with a broom in hand early morning picking up garbage in the streets to make the city clean; it is that gardener working under heat of sun or cold of the rain who make street landscapes beautiful. The honest taxi drivers and the disciplined sidewalk vendors are part of the hoi polloi that provides the spirit and the energy to the DDS. There is a DDS in the city government bureaucracy: people in the various departments responding to need for food, health, education, environmental protection and other needs of the constituents, with speed, honesty and transparency. And there is the head of the DDS himself, Duterte, now on his more than 20 years of serving the Dabawenyos. There are members of the DDS in the business, religious, academic and other sectors and in the ranks of the civic clubs and the GOs and NGOs who help make the road to peace and progress easier. The barangays have full of DDS: village officials and volunteer workers tending to children, women and the elderly, and barangay tanods who keep the peace. The fact is everybody in the city, except the criminals and other elements out to disrupt the economic stability and peace of the city, are members of this DDS.
This DDS is real and has been in existence since 1988, when Duterte first stepped into City Hall as mayor. Since then until today the DDS is on a shooting spree hitting targets to achieve peace, development and social and economic progress. Among others, these are the trophies of the DDS productive rampage: The local government has become a working model for excellence and often visited by other local government units in search of programs for adoption. Transparency in government is high with the city ranking low in audits for presence of corrupt practices by both government and private monitoring bodies. Peace and order is stable, with the local police consistent with high ratings in the annual review of the Philippine National Police. Crime index hovers near zero ground. In the latest ranking of Numbeo.com, Davao City is placed as No.9 among safest cities of the world. It is among few cities in the world with an on-call no-fee 911 Emergency Response Unit. Davao City is considered as the financial capital of Southern Mindanao if not the whole of Mindanao; it’s current annual revenue is placed at P6 billion, among the biggest in for an LGU in the Philippines. There is a construction boom and a tsunami of investors is flooding the city. Davao City is considered as the fastest growing city in Mindanao. It is home to a mix of regional groupings from Visayas and Luzon living in harmony with lumads and Muslims. -oOo- Duterte is being accused by human rights groups as behind the DDS, of the killer variety. He has denied it. But at the same time, he owns up to being the head of the DDS, of the other kind, which is the Duterte Development System. Yes, I am the DDS, he said. There is a joke here. Duterte admitting and denying being the DDS. Human rights groups looking for a DDS need not go far if they do their search in Davao City. Every Dabawenyo is a DDS. But they will get nothing if they want to link the mayor to the summary executions. Because the DDS of the real kind would be testifying about the real DDS headed by the mayor: the Davao Development System that has made what Davao City is today: the premier city of Mindanao and home to 1.5 million Dabawenyos who are happy and safe with their lives.