Duterte 'morally obligated' to run as president
MANILA, Philippines – A newly-formed multi-sectoral group called the Brotherhood for Duterte (BFD) believes the Davao City mayor has a "moral obligation" to lead the country in the 6 years after 2016.
The BFD was launched Wednesday, September 23, in Quezon City and called on Duterte to run as president and institute the same reforms he successfully implemented in the southern city of Davao.
"He has his reasons [why he does not want to run] but we think they are not sufficient. What will prevail is his moral obligation to serve the country," lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre II told Rappler on the sidelines of the launch.
Aguirre is BFD's lead convenor.
The group said Duterte's anti-corruption, anti-crime agenda resonates with most Filipinos, who all at one point have had their mothers concerned about their security due to the presence of criminal elements in their area.
Duterte, however, has been very vocal that he is already retiring from Philippine politics. On September 7, he declared he wasn't running. "In 2016, I will retire from public life for good. I believe it's no longer my time to be in politics," he said.
He also advised supporters during a press briefing on Monday, September 21, to choose another candidate.
As early as June, he told a group of businessmen, "Hindi ko na talaga panahon. Ako, the window of opportunity to be president is very, very small. It's no longer my time. Mahirap 'yung nandyan ka na, tapos ayaw mo. Tamad-tamaran ka."
(It's not my time anymore. For me, the window of opportunity to be president is very, very small. It's no longer my time. It's hard to be in a position you don't want. You'll get lazy.)
Among the BFD member-groups present during Wednesday's launch were the OFW Family Club (OFWFC), the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, and transport group Pasang Masda.
Individual supporters were also present from household workers, doctors, lawyers, OFWs, and other professionals.
Aguirre maintains that support for Duterte's presidential candidacy is palpable, even calling him the "People's President."
He said the group is willing to commit to fund the mayor's presidential campaign.
"I believe the Filipino people deserve to have a wider choice for president," he added.
OFWFC President Roy Señeres Jr said his group boasts of some 2 million card-bearing overseas Filipino workers, while Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said his group has 120,000 members.
Both committed full support to a Duterte presidential campaign, saying transport workers and OFWs alike are to benefit from a crime-free Philippines.
Crime rates in the Philippines surged in 2014.
While BFD stresses Duterte's anti-crime agenda, the so-called "The Punisher" from Davao City has a checkered past when it comes to human rights.
Openly tough on crime, Duterte was linked to a Davao-based vigilante group which brutally killed suspected criminals.
Duterte occasionally talks of the group, dubbed the Davao Death Squad, in jest – greasing the rumor mill about his alleged involvement in its operation. He has, however, denied any hand in the executions carried out.
He takes pride in Davao being one of the safest cities in the world, being the city's chief executive for 7 terms.
He has implemented a smoking ban in public places, a mining ban, an anti-discrimination ordinance, and a 911 emergency response system in Davao during his over two decades of controversial leadership.
The Philippines’ largest group of chief executive officers still believes Duterte is the best bet for 2016, citing the link between increased investments and peace and order.
BFD called on other Duterte supporters to join a mass action at 6 pm on Saturday, September 26, at the historic Luneta Park. – Rappler.com
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