Rod Duterte and Davao City

Rod Duterte and Davao City
By Apolinario Villalobos

For those who just read news about Rod Duterte, mayor of Davao City, the impression they get is the seemingly arrogance of the guy. But those who have known him for a long time, the feeling is admiration for having the guts to declare war against the smugglers who are sabotaging the country’s economy and the involved government officials. His action has become the favorite subject of rumor mongers in piers, coffee shops and even the houses of lawmakers. Who will not be irritated by the laxity of the people who are supposed to check on this activity and people behind it? And, so, can Duterte be blamed for giving warning to, DavideBangayan a.k.a. David Tan who is already identified as the perpetrator of this illegal activity in his turf?

During a Senate hearing about rice smuggling, Duterte, with profound coolness, let go of a simple introduction of his purpose in attending the hearing and as a finale, showed a photograph of David Bangayan who desperately kept on denying that he is also known as David Tan. But he failed to match the fire in the eyes of Duterte who, once more let out a stern warning that he (David Bangayan) shall be shot if he continues to smuggle rice into Davao City, adding that, he will do it for the country, and that he is ready to spend the rest of his life in jail. His pronouncement did not please de Lima of the Department of Justice who declared that the National Bureau of Investigation must “gather”, yet, additional evidences before necessary charges can be filed against Bangayan. As if such unpleasant statement of de Lima is not enough, Etta Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights took her position in the limelight by asking the Senate to charge Duterte with contempt. The acts of the two ladies just put substance to the statement of Duterte which implied that the government has more talk than act.

Before the administration of Rod Duterte, Davao City was a notorious hideaway of criminals from surrounding provinces, cities and towns. Touted as the biggest city in the world in terms of area, lawless elements made use of the wide domain in eluding the arms of the law. Agdao, a seaside district even became known as a “killing field”. Local tourism did not gain much as regards arrivals due to the unsafe atmosphere of the city despite its being gateway to Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines at 10,311 feet above sea level, its being the showcase of famous fruits of the south, such as durian, oranges, rambutan, and the world famous Pearl Farm Resort. Fortunately, those bad impressions are now relegated to the past withDuterte’s assumption of the city’s stewardship.

Davao is the only city in the whole Philippines, known to strongly impose no-smoking policy in restricted areas and such reminder is being echoed by flight attendants just before incoming commercial flights taxi their way into the tarmac of the Davao International Airport. It is also the only city in the country where fireworks are not allowed during New Year celebration. Based on my experience, it is the only city where I found taxi drivers who return fare change to the last centavo!

And, now, with smugglers trying to invade the peaceful turf of Duterte, who sadly admitted that all he could do is conduct covert investigations, as his frequent checking at the piers might be viewed as connivance, made do with stern warning declared publicly, putting his reputation at risk. The detractor grabbed the opportunity by letting go a tirade of accusations, in an effort perhaps to earn a mileage of publicity and public sympathy, to which the impatient Filipinos, especially the direct victims, are not sold.