Duterte in ARMM: I am the Moro people's president

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte campaigns in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.

Although Duterte lacks allies among local officials there, he receives a rousing welcome from the people.

Pia Ranada reports. – Rappler.com

This was the reaction of the crowd in Maguindanao upon the arrival of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Buluan town.

Duterte reciprocated, declaring his devotion to the Muslim communities of Mindanao.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Long live the Moro! Long live the Moro! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!

Maguindanao is the most vote-rich province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Duterte tells them he is the only candidate who has their interests at heart.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who of the 3 candidates can speak about the problem of the Moro, the problem of the BBL, the problem of poverty and hunger? None of them. I am running for president and I will fix Mindanao. Me, if I become president, if Allah gives his blessing, before I die since I am old, I will leave to you all a Mindanao that is governed in peace.

The Davao City mayor is overwhelmingly Mindanao’s top choice for president, according to recent surveys.

But ARMM is dominated by local government officials belonging to the ruling Liberal Party.

That doesn’t stop former Buluan Mayor Jong Mangudadatu, part of an influential family, from supporting Duterte.

JONG MANGUDADATU, FORMER BULUAN MAYOR: If we are not cheated in the elections, he will be the winner, no one else.

Maguindanao is a poor province constantly rocked by violence from secessionist Muslim groups.

Duterte proposes adopting the Bangsamoro Basic Law into his vision of a federal state to bring peace to the province.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever is in the BBL, let’s not touch it. Let’s become federal so we can give a chance to our countrymen in other regions.

For Ronson Masingkit, Duterte is the only choice.

RAPPLER: What do you like about him?

RONSON MASINGKIT, MAGUINDANAO RESIDENT: He is fearless and has compassion.

RAPPLER: What do you think of the other candidates?

RAPPLER: They’re nothing.

Later that day, Duterte visits Koronadal City in South Cotabato.

Before his speech, he puts the Philippine flag to his heart.

He says he wants peace in Mindanao because he has Muslim family members.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we fight, I’ll ask the Moro, who will I side with? My Christian nephews and nieces or my Muslim nephews and nieces? Let’s talk. That’s why I was pointing out the flag earlier. 

In a city where he has no allies among local government officials, he tells the audience to make up their own minds on who to vote.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Now, what is Manila doing? They are choosing [our leaders]. “This is our president.” “Okay.” “This is our president.” “Yes mayor, congressman, senator.” That’s how it is. So what is ours? Son of a bitch, Manila is messing with us.

In less than a month, will the Philippines elect a Mindanaoan president?

Pia Ranada, Rappler, South Cotabato.