Duterte visits former rival Prospero Nograles’ wake

Pia Ranada
Duterte visits former rival Prospero Nograles’ wake


The first President from Mindanao pays his respects to Prospero Nograles, the first House Speaker from Mindanao. They were political rivals but reconciled in 2015.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte ended his week-long absence from the public eye when he visited the wake of former House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Sunday, May 5.

Duterte arrived at Heritage Park in Taguig City late Sunday night to pay respects to a fellow Davaoeño politician who had once been a bitter rival.

Photos from the Office of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the late Nograles’ son, showed the President standing by the former Speaker’s coffin as other guests looked on.

The President was also seen speaking with the late former House Speaker’s wife, Rhodora. 

Also seen at the wake that day were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, and Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez.

Before his visit to the wake, President Duterte issued a rare personal statement about Nograles’ death, as opposed to just a Malacañang statement from Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

The Chief Executive said he was “saddened” by Nograles’ passing and remembered him as a “leader who used his voice to speak on behalf of the Filipino people.” 

PAYING HIS RESPECTS. President Rodrigo Duterte condoles with members of the Nograles family at Heritage Park in Taguig City. Photo from Office of the Cabinet Secretary

Duterte and Nograles locked horns for 30 years as the two most prominent politicians in Davao City. Back in 1992, Nograles ran for Davao City mayor against Duterte but lost. In 2010, he ran again for the post, this time against Duterte’s eldest daughter Sara. He lost that bid as well.

The height of Nograles’ political career was his House Speakership from 2008 to 2010. This made him the first Speaker from Mindanao. Duterte would eventually become the first President from Mindanao.

The Duterte-Nograles rivalry ended in November 2015 when Nograles threw his support behind Duterte’s presidential bid. 

During his presidency, Duterte would refer to his clash with Nograles, whom he called by his nickname, “Boy.” The President would claim it was Nograles who circulated “black propaganda” linking Duterte to the Davao Death Squad (DDS), an accusation which haunts the President to this day because of extrajudicial killings being associated to his administration’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.

Nograles died on Saturday, May 4, having succumbed to “respiratory failure, secondary to pneumonia,” according to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. He was 71 years old.

Before Nograles’ wake, Duterte had not been seen in any public function since he spoke at the Palarong Pambansa Opening Ceremony on Sunday, April 28. That morning, he had just arrived in Davao City from China where he attended the Belt and Road economic forum. 

Before May 5, Duterte’s partner Honeylet Avanceña, had shared photos of the President reading the day’s newspapers in their Davao City home. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.