ILIGAN CITY: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has appealed for calm amid the tension that threatens the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Speaking during the 45th commencement exercises of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Duterte last Tuesday expressed concern over statements made earlier by a member of the government peace panel who warned of the possibility of violence breaking out once again should Congress fail to pass the BBL.
He said this is one reason why he has been actively campaigning for the shift to a federal form of government as this could be Mindanao’s last card to avert bloodshed in the South.
The Davao City mayor left a “very good” impression in this city.
A motorcade from the Iligan City National High School grounds where his helicopter landed took him to the venue of the graduation ceremony.
On hand to greet him upon his arrival were school officials, members of the Iligan Fury Motor Club and the Samporna clan, which considers Duterte a distant relative.
The 5,000-capacity MSU-IIT gym was packed to the rafters by 1,612 graduates and their
families and friends. The door had to be shut by security personnel after Duterte’s entrance was delayed by the usual throng of admirers.
He was greeted with a standing ovation after he was introduced by MSU-IIT chancellor Sukarno Tanggol, one of the country’s foremost scholars and himself an expert and author on federalism.
Tanggol disclosed that when the announcement that Duterte was the commencement speaker was posted on Facebook, it instantly generated “more than 1,000 likes and more than a hundred shares.”
The chancellor revealed that a daughter of a faculty member herself had unwittingly rode on a taxi driven by the mayor on one of his fabled nocturnal pastime, which is going after criminals.
“[Duterte] is a legend, a hero and an idol,” Tanggol described Duterte in his introduction.
The audience stayed on in spite of the sweltering heat throughout the solemn ceremony.
Duterte did not read his prepared speech and instead spoke extemporaneously when he traced the history of the conflict in Mindanao.
The audience, a mixture of Moslems and Christians, listened attentively as Duterte presented his argument that the Mamasapano incident had its roots in the 1521 arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and the subsequent subjugation of the Philippines.
At the end of his 38-minute address, the entire graduating class rose as one to applaud the mayor who was uncharacteristically garbed in a toga.
Duterte was treated to a late lunch at the Office of the Chancellor where he was again besieged by admirers waiting to have their selfies and groupies with him.
He next proceeded to the College of Engineering amphitheater to speak at a federalism forum arranged by the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Committee Iligan chapter headed by former Mayor Franklin Quijano.
Before Duterte’s turn, Tanggol gave excerpts of his book on federalism although he admitted he had to make it very brief because Duterte had to fly back to Davao.
Acknowledging the persistent calls for him to run, Duterte urged his audience to look to Manila first because there are enough materials there.
“[Vice President Jejomar] Binay, good. [Sen. Grace] Poe, good. [Secretary Manuel] Roxas [2nd], good. [Sen. Alan Peter] Cayetano, good,” he started off.
Like in his previous sorties, the audience stayed silent, waiting for the clincher.
“But if you’re not satisfied, look South. Duterte, very good.”