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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ largest group of chief executive officers (CEOs) is still hopeful that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will change his mind and run for the 2016 presidential race.
Some of them said on Thursday, June 25, that he remains the “best local chief executive for the country.”
“I’m not running for presidency. Hindi ko talaga panahon at ayaw ng pamilya ko (It’s not my time and my family doesn’t want me to).” This was Duterte’s statement before the Asia CEO Forum 2015 in Makati on Thursday.
Asia CEO Forum is the largest regular business event in the Philippines and considered one of the most important in the Asia-Pacific region. Duterte is the first politician invited by the Asia CEO group as its key forum speaker, as it usually invites business leaders.
Duterte firmly said before the group that he will not run for presidency this 2016 election. “I said before [that] I do not covet the position; I do not want it. My stand is still the same. I hope you understand.”
Just a strategy
But some of the members of the Asia CEO group think that his pronouncements are just a part of his campaign strategy.
“Do you think that he won’t run? I think there’s still a very strong chance that he will,” Asia CEO group chairman Richard Mills said on the sidelines of the event.
“I do want him to run, certainly, because Duterte’s a very strong candidate and it serves the democracy,” Mills added.
Ricky Agana, former investment banker at Morgan Stanley, said: “I think with all his pronouncements – on people earning P25,000 ($554.38) or less should not pay taxes, increasing the salaries of police and everything, and his revolutionary government – that is a platform for government.”
“So when you hear that, even if he denies he is running, I presume he will declare one of these days that he will be running,” Agana added.
Should Duterte changes his mind and run for president next year, he said he would make way for several reforms. These range from exempting workers earning below P25,000 ($554.38) from paying taxes to increasing minimum wages for teachers, policemen, and soldiers.
Duterte said he will adopt a “very strict policy against corruption,” warning that he would “throw to the waste basket” the documents of businessmen “who would attempt to give gifts” to government officials.
“It’s for Filipinos to judge what’s best for them, but I would say, based on what he said, he is a very compelling candidate. For me, and I think for many people, they know Davao and the story there,” Mills said.
Duterte discussed at the Asia CEO Forum his experience in transforming Davao City from being a murder capital to becoming one of the world’s safest cities.
“Although he said that he won’t run for presidency, why does it seem like his platform is ready? I will give him the benefit of the doubt but that’s politics. I like him to run. I think the speech that he gave was very inspiring,” Agana said. “If you look at the bigger picture this fellow is very sincere, he will be a good candidate for the presidency.”
Happy with the 3 presidential candidates
Although the Davao mayor said during the event’s open forum that he would be happy with Senator Grace Poe, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, or Vice President Jejomar Binay leading the country, business leaders still pushed for Duterte.
“I still want Duterte for president and Poe for vice president. Hopefully, he will change his mind. Because between the two of them, with the strong spirituality of Duterte and Poe’s integrity, [they will form a] good combination. Generally, business leaders are very supportive of what Duterte stands for,” said Martin Galvez, president of GG&A Insurance & Estate Planning Services.
The Asia CEO group has taken keen interest on Duterte, who is known in the business circle as among select local government officials who remained unspoiled by corruption issues.
“He (Duterte) would be a great local chief executive and he is the perfect candidate to address corruption, poverty, criminality in this country,” Mills told reporters.
The Davao mayor, however, has been stained with controversies, like his alleged involvement with the Davao Death Squad and his ironclad type of leadership.
“Are you about to ask me if I kill people? If you go to my city and do drugs, I will kill you,” Duterte said. – Rappler.com
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