When President-elect Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath as the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, on June 30, he will enter the pages of national history as the first Filipino President from Mindanao.
In fact, he is the first Mindanaon to run for the presidency.
His election victory, which was achieved via a veritable tsunami of votes, had an aura of inevitability and power. It was as if he was confirming Victor Hugo’s famous statement that “There is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come.”
We think it is the idea of a President from Mindanao whose time has come. To the lasting credit of Candidate Duterte and the credit of 15,900,000-plus of the 55,735,757 million registered voters embraced the idea of a President from Mindanao.
Presidents of the Republic
To freshen the memory of everyone, we list below the Presidents of the republic since 1898 in the order of their accession to office, along with their provenance.
1. Emilio Aguinaldo, Cavite
2. Manuel L. Quezon, Quezon
3. Jose P. Laurel, Batangas
4. Sergio Osmeña, Cebu
5. Manuel Roxas, Capiz
6. Elpidio Quirino, Ilocos Sur
7. Ramon Magsaysay, Zambales
8. Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol
9. Diosdado Macapagal, Pampanga
10. Ferdinand Marcos, Ilocos Norte
11. Corazon cojuangco-Aquino, Tarlac
12.Fidel V. Ramos, Pangasinan
13. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Metro Manila
14. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pampanga
15.Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Tarlac
16. Rodrigo Duterte, Davao
Of the 15 Presidents of the Republic from 1898 to 2016, 12 have come from Luzon and three from the Visayas.
Now, there will at last be one from Mindanao.
A historic opportunity
President Duterte’s accession to office will signify a historic opportunity for him and for the nation to lift Mindanao out of the morass of conflict and underdevelopment, into the hearthfire of progress and modernization.
For years it has been the complaint of Mindanaons like Mr. Duterte that Imperial Manila has treated Mindanao like a colony and left it behind in the nation‘s march to progress.
They have demanded a greater share of the nation’s resources to fund Mindanao’s development. And they have demanded a greater measure of control over their affairs through new political arrangements like autonomy or statehood.
For years, it has also been their hope that a full solution to the problem of secessionist conflict and rebellion can be forged, believing that with peace, all of Mindanao – all its ethnic groups and communities – can make progress together, and share in the bounty of progress.
As the first Mindanaon to serve in the presidency, President Duterte will have an exceptional opportunity to lead Mindanao away from its troubled history, to a new dawn of peace and progress.
Being from Mindanao, with solid experience in executive leadership and knowledge of the problems of Mindanao and its people, he can make this happen.
And he may yet forge among our people and all communities throughout the archipelago the unity and solidarity that eluded our past Presidents.
In such a noble mission, he will have our people’s and the nation’s enthusiastic support.