DAVAO CITY, Philippines – It was an emotional morning for Davao City government employees.
On Monday, June 27, they formed a crowd in front of Davao City Hall to witness the last time Rodrigo Duterte would attend their regular flag-raising ceremony as their mayor.
“Ayyy, makaiyak tayo niyan (I think I’m going to cry),” said Lina of the City Treasurer’s Office while waiting for Duterte to arrive.
Elena of the city’s Business Bureau said she would miss his familiar presence in City Hall. (Lina and Elena declined to give their last names.)
“Nasanay kami na nandito lang siya everytime then ngayon biglang mahahati yung time niya to Manila and Davao,” said Elena of the city’s Business Bureau. (We got used to him just being here then suddenly his time will be divided between Manila and Davao.)
The employees took out their fans and umbrellas to ward off the morning heat. They were prepared to wait however long for their mayor.
Laughter burst out in different groups. Selfies were being taken everywhere. It’s not every day you send off your boss to his new job as the next president of the country.
Duterte, known to report to work after lunch, did not often attend the Monday flag-raising ceremony which usually begins at 8 am.
But this Monday was special because in 3 days’ time, he would be flying to Manila to take his oath as president.
Duterte arrived at 8:30 am to cheers and hoots of joy from the crowd of employees.
His 40-minute speech showed the easy rapport he had with them. He easily mixed Bisaya jokes with serious statements about fighting corruption to the enthusiastic appreciation of his audience.
But as always, the clincher came at the end.
“Thank you for believing in me,” said Duterte, their mayor for 22 years.
“I was first elected in 1988. I never lost an election and I owe it to you because, without the backing of or help of the military, police and you guys, I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.
‘Thank you for listening’
Duterte thanked the city government employees for listening to him and helping him “correct” errors.
“Because you listened to me, though you cannot totally erase graft and corruption, but at least, here in Davao, we were able to correct so many errors,” he said.
To much cheering, Duterte also announced that city government plantilla would get P10,000 in education assistance.
Duterte gave plaques of recognition to his long-time City Administrator Jesus Melchor Quitain who he thanked for “accepting without hesitation” his request that he help him manage City Hall.
Quitain’s term as administrator ends when Duterte’s term ends – at noon time on June 30.
Duterte said Quitain will be joining him in Malacañang Palace but did not elaborate on his exact position.
The mayor also gave a plaque of recognition to his long-time executive assistant Christopher “Bong” Go. (READ: The man they call Bong Go)
“Bong, salamat sa pagbugaw sa akin,” he joked while handing Go the plaque. (Bong, thanks for being my go-between.)
Go is the one in charge of arranging Duterte’s daily schedule and meetings with various personalities.
Duterte said he will be flying to Manila on June 29 for his inauguration the following day. – Rappler.com