MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Is he or isn’t he? The charismatic but controversial Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continues to intrigue.
The week after he said he was “old” and “did not have the energy” to seek a national post, Duterte’s radio ads were released in different Bisaya-speaking cities. In the ads, the charismatic but controversial mayor pokes fun at the differences between the Bisaya and Filipino languages.
He ends the radio ads, however, by saying he is a Bisaya and a true Filipino. Insiders say the ads seek to consolidate Duterte’s following in the Visayas and Mindanao where he holds considerable sway.
In the 30-second radio ad that started airing over Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Tacloban City on Tuesday, May 26, Duterte starts with, “Sa Manila, ang ginoo, gentleman.” (In Manila, “ginoo” means gentleman.)
“Sa atong mga Bisaya, Lord na yan.” (For the Bisaya, that’s the Lord.) This is because in Bisaya, “Ginoo” already means God.
“Sa Manila, ang langgam, nagkamang-kamang pa.” (In Manila, “langgam” still crawl on the floor, referring to ants.)
“Sa atong mga Bisaya, naglupad na.” (For the Bisaya, they already fly.) This is because in Bisaya, “langgam” means bird.
“Sa Manila, kung si mister naglibog, kinahanglan tawagun si misis.” (In Manila, when the husband is “naglibog” or when he feels the urge, he needs to call his wife.)
Sa atong mga Bisaya, kinahanglan lang ug pagsabot. (For the Bisaya, all it needs is understanding.) This is because in Bisaya, “libog” means confusion.
“Kitang mga Bisaya, nagkasinabot: daghang ug good sa Manila.” (Bisaya people agree: there’s a lot of good in Manila.)
“Pero sa atong mga Bisaya, Bisaya is the best.” (But for us Bisaya, Bisaya is the best.)
The ad ends with a simple message from the mayor known as “The Punisher”: “Isog ug mahigugmaon sa isig katawo. Kini si Mayor Duterte, kaliwat ug Bisaya, tinood na Pilipino.” (Bisaya people are fierce but loving towards their fellowmen. This is Mayor Duterte, a Bisaya and a true Filipino.)
Duterte, who has been mayor of Davao for decades, is believed to be seeking a national post but he has kept coy about his true intentions. Talk of his running has been fueled by his “listening tours” around the country and even Hong Kong. But Duterte, who has also been criticized for his alleged ties to the Davao Death Squad, insists his travels are meant to promote a federal form of government in the country.
His sudden rise in early 2015 presidential surveys has not gone unnoticed. Duterte met with Interior Secretary and presumptive Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II for a quick chat and dinner, but politics was supposedly not the topic.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, who leads presidential candidates in nationwide surveys, said he was “considering” Duterte as his vice president, an “offer” Duterte promptly shot down.
Earlier this week, the 70-year-old mayor pointed out that he does not have the funds, the energy, or the youth to fuel a national campaign.
But the ads seem to indicate otherwise. Sources said Duterte is set to release television ads in the National Capital Region, this time in Filipino, also this week.
Change of heart?
Earlier in March, Duterte was reported as saying he had asked his publicists to stop releasing a political ad because it overshadowns his federalism campaign.
A Sunstar report quoted him as saying, “Stop that. Wait when I tell you that I’m running because until now I have not made up my mind about being president.”
His ad that aired Tuesday has him speaking directly to his Visayan constituents and could signal a change of heart from two months ago. But the ad is open to interpretation.
Duterte’s political adviser Angelito “Lito” Banayo however said the radio ads are not a signal of Duterte’s intention to run for president.
“Wala man magsulti sa radio message og pagdagan. Ang sa iya ra, kitang mga Bisaya, the best! (It did not say in the radio that he will run. What he wanted to point out that we, the Bisaya, are the best),” said Banayo in a chat message to Rappler.
But Banayo added, “Isn’t it about time we had a Cebuano/Bisaya president? Anak sa Bisaya (son of Visayan), Garbo sa Mindanao (Pride of Mindanao)? The last time we elected a Bisaya president was in 1957, almost decades ago, if you are not 79 years and above. No Bisaya has voted for a Bisaya president.”
Banayo said the country had elected 4 Pampangeño presidents who were in power for about 25 years. Four Ilocanos were also elected and were president for all of 36 years, while one Ilonggo (from Capiz) administered the country for 3 years.
A Tagalog, Joseph Estrada, was also elected president.
“From Aguinaldo to Quezon to Laurel before the Republic, all Tagalogs. Isn’t it about time we united for a son of a Bisaya who made a dangerous city 27 years ago into the 9th safest city in the world? The only city from a Third World country among First World countries and definitely, the safest and most child- friendly city in the Philippines?” Banayo asked. – with a report from Dale Israel/Rappler.com