The furor regarding the statement of Davao City Mayor and Presidential candidate Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte on the rape and subsequent killing of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill could not have come at a most auspicious time. His ratings in various surveys have gone up. His three opponents are panicking and have been tied to attacking him simply because they are unable to present a viable program of governance. But lo and behold Digong has ostensibly given his opponents an armament to once more viciously attack him for what he is — a-not-so-finesse political animal and for what he is not — a cold blooded murderer.
Far from what his detractors would like to portray Mayor Digong Duterte, his solid 22 years as a public servant speak clearly of who he really is — a man who takes the interest of the greatly impoverished and downtrodden masses at heart.
Digong lived and grew up during his formative years among the poverty-stricken and what Roxas, Poe and Binay may call “wretched of the earth”. He lived a life diametrically opposed to the aristocratic upbringing and lifestyle of the other three rich and famous presidential candidates.
His integration, interaction and experience with people living in squalor in Davao City and its environs have definitely molded him into an unapologetic, feisty and loud-mouthed Mayor. His 22 years as a public servant did nothing but only further exacerbated his uncharacteristic style of leadership and his not-so-finesse approach to nuances of daily governance. “Putang ina mo”, “letse ka”, “patayin nyo lahat”, and “maayo pa sila naunahan ang Mayor” are definitely bad words. Words that are embedded in his consciousness from living with the “wretched”. The “wretched” that the three other “holier-than-thou” presidential candidates so despised. But whom they love and adore every 6 years during election time.
But it is also the life of Digong lived among the destitute, semi-proletariats living in squalor and the exploited and oppressed that taught him early and profoundly the value of serving those who have less in life. A life lived in the service of the interests of the workers, peasants, lumads, women, teachers, students, street hawkers, prostitutes and even government adversaries – the MILF, MNLF, and NPA.
He stood up against corruption, drugs and criminality with overzealousness in the same way he stood up for the Philippines’ territorial integrity and our national sovereignty.
The man only has the interests of the masses at heart.
He spits out expletives that offend the sensibilities of the elite, yet he is consumed with fire in his heart to serve the exploited and oppressed. We all can criticize him for his demerits but we all need to appreciate his competence and achievements—something the three presidential candidates undoubtedly and exceedingly lack.
We can only hope should he win the presidency, he will learn the nuances of a national position. But certainly Bai Digong, we accept you for who you are. | Tina Tesoro-Lorenzana, DDS California Coordinator