Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte – the country’s southern version of “Dirty Harry” – secured his candidacy as the standard bearer of PDP-Laban in an official proclamation by the Party on Monday.
Duterte is running for President in the 2016 elections with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as his running mate.
Feared for his ruthless anti-crime stance, Duterte repeated his boast of killing criminals, even blaming the Pope for worsening traffic.
In a rambling, obscenity-littered speech, he vowed he would take a zero-tolerance approach to crime and admitted personally killing criminals.
“It’s true, I don’t deny that,” the mayor said.
Duterte bragged about killing a group of kidnappers and then burning their bodies during his time as mayor, but did not provide details.
“I really finished them [off]. This was a good killing,” he told a cheering crowd.
The combative mayor slammed Pope Francis in his speech for causing traffic jams in Metro Manila when he visited in January.
“Pope, you son of a —–, why don’t you go home?” he said.
In a report earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said Duterte’s so-called “Davao Death Squad” had killed more than 1,000 people during his tenure as mayor of the city on the southern island of Mindanao.
“It’s bad enough that the government has failed to end impunity for these killings or investigate Duterte and similar mayors – it’s doubly upsetting that he is exploiting this politically,” HRW’s Philippine representative Carlos Conde said in a statement.
Duterte, who served as mayor on and off since he was first elected in 1998, made the 2016 elections a five-cornered fight.
He is one of several candidates vying to succeed President Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose single six-year term ends next year.
Among those considered as serious contenders are: Administration party bet Manuel Roxas 2nd, Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance and independent candidates Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Duterte’s proclamation and acceptance speech punctuated months of speculation that he will gun for Malacañang in next year’s elections after he started going around the country purportedly to advance a call for a shift to the federal form of government.
Until the last day of the filing of certificates of candidacy last October 16, he repeatedly insisted that he was not interested in running for a higher elective position.
Duterte initially filed a COC for reelection, which he withdrew last Friday. He then filed a COC for President as a substitute to the official PDP-Laban candidate, Martin Diño (See related story).
He said he had a change of heart after the Senate Electoral Tribunal voted 5-4 dismissing the quo warranto petition of Rizalito David that sought to nullify the proclamation of Poe as among the winners in the 2013 senatorial elections.
David had claimed that for being a foundling with no known biological Filipino parents, the senator is not a natural-born citizen, a constitutional requirement for those running for senator.
The electoral tribunal case is under appeal. Poe also faces five disqualification cases with the Commission on Elections – all assailing her COC for President for claiming she is a natural-born citizen.
The senator, who decided to run as an independent after turning down the Liberal Party’s offer for her to team up with Roxas, leads all pre-election surveys for President and Vice President.
Duterte’s proclamation at the Century Park Hotel in Manila was attended by party officials led by national chairman, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd and Diño, the party’s secretary-general.
In a lengthy and expletive-filled speech that was somewhat similar to the one he delivered in a fund-raiser Sunday night, the mayor laid out his plans should he win in next year’s elections.
“Criminality has to stop. Corruption has to stop, although it may take longer,” Duterte said.
The tough-talking mayor added that he is running for President because he could not bear seeing Filipinos go on suffering.
“Hindi ako nagpapa-hero [I am not trying to be a hero]. Wala akong talent [I have no talent]. But I will not allow anyone to continue inflicting suffering [on]Filipinos,” he said.
Duterte gave his running mate, Cayetano, a solid endorsement.
He said he might end up killing his Vice President in case he wins and Cayetano loses.
According to Duterte, it is very difficult to have a Vice President who is not your ally because there is always the thought that the Vice President is out to get rid of the President.
“Ang mangyayari niyan ay baka unahan ko na lang, ako na magpapatay sa Vice President [I might just make the first move and have the Vice President killed]… tell authorities that I really believe that he is out to kill me. Self-defense,” he jokingly said.
The Davao City mayor told his supporters that if they will not vote for Cayetano they might as well not vote for him also because they will just give him a difficult time.
“Alan [Cayetano] has been always with me and he is very good, very intelligent and decent,” Duterte said.
The mayor clarified that he did not rebuff Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who reportedly sought Duterte’s endorsement after learning that the latter has formally filed his COC for President.
He said “rebuff” is a harsh word, adding that he thought that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago already picked Marcos as her running mate.
Duterte, in his almost two-hour speech, presented his platform of government, which focuses on stamping out corruption and criminality, as well as pushing for a change in the system of government.
He said he will push for federalism, which he said he believes is the most effective way of bringing long-lasting peace in Mindanao. He also downplayed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“I am telling you now, nothing short of a federal structure would give Mindanao peace… the salvation of this country is in Mindanao,” the mayor added.
He tried to avoid uttering expletives but ended up blurting out more than 15 profanities, one of which was even addressed to Pope Francis.
Duterte once again hit the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision favoring Poe in the disqualification case filed against her as senator.
“The only one, the only sacred [thing]to the Filipino people is the President’s position. Then they just interpret it like that, when it’s very, very clear that you have to be a natural-born citizen [to qualify to run for the post],” he said.
Duterte noted that members of the tribunal should not complicate the case by giving weight to international treaties more than the Constitution since a treaty cannot amend the Constitution.
“The treaty says it bestows upon you the citizenship wherever the foundling is found. You are a citizen of the country where you are found, period. It does not say that you are a citizen of the country and vested also to be considered or recognized as a natural-born,” he added.
“My God! What holds the country is a piece of paper called the Constitution. You break it, you break the country… do not mangle it with so much misinterpretation because you open a window of disobedience,” Duterte pointed out.
He said he never desired to be President and if the Comelec wants him disqualified he will gladly accept it and he will retire from politics.
“If God wants me there, I’ll be there,” the mayor said when asked if he thinks that God wants him to be President.