Digong declared: “Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs
by Ducky Paredes
Digong ( Rodrigo) Duterte was born March 28, 1945 in Maasin, Leyte to Vicente G. Duterte, a lawyer and Soledad Roa, a school teacher.
His mother “Soleng” Roa-Duterte, came from Agusan del Norte, the daughter of Eleno Roa and Fortunata Gonzales. Graduating with a degree in education at the Philippine Normal School in Manila in 1939, she joined the Bureau of Public Schools as a teacher. The man she married, Vicente Duterte was a former mayor of Danao City. Digong’s cousin Ronald, also served as Cebu City mayor from 1983 to 1986. Ronald’s father, Ramon Duterte, also held the position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes regard the political families of the Durano and the Almendras clans as relatives.
The Dutertes arrived in Davao in 1951. Vicente, a lawyer, engaged in private practice; Soledad, the teacher, taught in the public school. Mrs. Duterte retired as a supervisor in 1952 when her huband Vicente became a politican.
Dingcong finished his elementry at the Sta. Ana Elementary School in Davao City, graduating in 1956. He finished High School at the Holy Cross Academy in Digos after being expelled twice from other schools, including the Ateneo de Davao due to misconduct.
For his college, he took a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila in 1968. He also obtained a law degree from San Beda College, in 1972, passing the bar in the same year. Digong eventually joined the City Prosecution Office in Davao City where he stayed from 1977 to 1986.
Duterte has three siblings. Benjamin “Bong” Duterte was a one-term city councilor of Davao between 1992-1995, younger sister Jocelyn Duterte lost in several attempts to win a city council seat as well as the mayoralty in 2001; Blue Boy Duterte ran and lost in the First District congressional race in 1998.
Dingcong is known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in using profanity profusely live on-screen in numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools to tone it down.
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Rodrigo Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight stewardess from Davao City of German American descent, with whom he had three children namely: Paolo (”Pulong”), Sara (”Inday Sara”) and Sebastian (”Baste”). Two (Paolo and Sara) ventured into politics while Baste is a businesman.
Digong was very open about his infidelity and philandering during his marriage with Zimmerman and admits it is the reason for the failed marriage.
In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never protest ed Zimmerman’s petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending their 27-year marriage. Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, “Yes, he is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it.”
Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to one another. Zimmerman also emphasized in an interview that despite Duterte’s womanizing, he listens to activist women and set up a program that mainstreams “gender and development” issues resulting to Davao City winning the Galing Pook award for “gender-responsive” governance in 2004.
While Dingcong is listed as single in the Davao City website, he is currently living with a partner, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica (”Kitty”).
After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed OIC vice mayor. In 1988, he ran for mayor and won, serving until 1998. He set a precedent when he appointed deputy mayors to take care of the Lumad and the Moro in the city government. This was later copied in other parts of the country.
In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st District of Davao City. In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was also reelected in 2004 and in 2007.
In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, while his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio was elected mayor. He was offered the Interior Secretary post four times, by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III. He declined,. In April 2014, he also declined a nomination for the World Mayor Prize, given by an international body to outstanding mayors saying “he was just doing his job.” Among the other awards Duterte also refused to accept for Davao City includes the one given by the American Cancer Society and the 2010 anti-smoking award in Singapore.
Davao City under Duterte won the National Literacy Hall of Fame Award for being a three-time first-place winner in the Outstanding Local Government Unit Highly Urbanized City category.
Crime figures reported by Duterte, notes that crime in Davao was significantly reduced during the period 1985–2000. Duterte notes that there was a decrease in the crime rate from triple-digit per 1,000 people in 1985 to 0.8 cases per 10,000 inhabitants in the period 1999 to 2005.
Digong patrols Davao City’s streets on one of his big motorcycles, leading a convoy complete with blaring sirens and M16 rifles. In early September 2015, an incident was reported regarding a tourist who was forced to swallow his own cigarette butt in a local bar after the tourist arrogantly refused to comply with the public anti-smoking ordinance of the city.
Duterte was personally contacted by the bar owner. Digong forced the tourist to swallow his cigarette butt to which the tourist readily obliged. Duterte was criticized for this by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
While he supports the extrajudicial killings of habitual drug users and dealers, Duterte akso used city government funds to build a P12-million drug rehabilitation and treatment center which provides 24-hour services. In 2003, he offered a P2,000 monthly allowance to drug addicts who personally approached him and committed to kick the habit.
In a survey released by crowd-sourced rating site Numbeo.com dated April 30, 2015, Davao City ranked 9th as the safest city in the world. In the following month, Davao City’s rank moved up to the 5th spot and since June 2015, Davao City held the 4th spot as the safest city in the world.
Duterte also has his own local program in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa (”From the Masses, For the Masses”) on ABS-CBN Davao.
In 2014, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte initiated the holding of a summit: ”I am calling on all responsible leaders in the island, from government and civil society organizations, from the business and academe sectors, the leaders of the Church, the military and the youth, let us all forge a well-informed, united front, so we could craft a collective plan of action for Mindanao’s true identity reflective of what its peoples and tribes truly wish and aspire for”, Duterte said in a statement.
Local government heads from Mindanao cities, towns and provinces are also expected to attend, as well as Catholic bishops and Muslim religious leaders.
In September 2014, Duterte met with former mayors and governors in an initial effort to revive calls for a federal form of government. The group, which called itself Mindanao Council of Leaders, made their position public after an informal caucus. Present during the said meeting were Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, former Cagayan de Oro mayors Reuben Canoy and Vicente Emano, former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos, and former Davao del Norte representative Pantaleon Alvarez.
Duterte, dubbed “The Punisher” by Time magazine, has been criticized by human rights groups and by Amnesty International for tolerating extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals allegedly by the Davao death squads. Duterte has been heavily criticised by numerous organizations for condoning and even inciting murders to take place during his leadership.
In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, “The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive.” Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001-2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of “criminals”, some of whom were later executed. In July 2005 at a crime summit in the Manila Hotel, Dingcong declared: “Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs”.
In 2009 Duterte said: “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”
Duterte responding to the reported arrest and subsequent release of a notorious drug lord in Manila is quoted as saying: “Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive. You can go out, but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extra-judicial killing? Then I will just bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there, that will no longer be extra-judicial.”
Following Duterte’s comments in relation to killing a person suspected of smuggling rice, the office of the President of the Philippines issued a statement saying, “Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods.”
In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that if elected president he may end up killing up to 100,000 criminals.
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