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Duterte's 'toughness' captivates Batangueños

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte visits the cities of Lipa and Batangas Thursday, April 14.

There, he is mobbed by supporters who say they admire his "toughness."

Pia Ranada reports. – Rappler.com 

Less than a month before elections, Rody Duterte continues to tend to his weak spot: the Balance of Luzon, where Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe are the favored candidates.

Today, Duterte courts Batangas province, where local positions are dominated by Liberal Party members.

Batangas is also the home province of Binay’s father.

In Lipa City, this hysterical crowd fights to be near Duterte, who is once again hours late for his sortie.

The mad rush even breaks the glass door to the Lipa City mayor’s office.

Duterte can’t help but comment on the warm reception shown to him.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not in showbiz so we don’t expect the crowd to be somewhat hysterical to see a person with an ordinary face. (JUMP CUT) The people's enthusiasm, almost hysterical. It means something. It’s not because I am I and I am me, it’s something else. It's boiling. But what I can maybe state with certainty at this time, people want change.

He wins the endorsement of Lipa Mayor Meynardo Sabili.

RAPPLER: Are you endorsing Mayor Duterte for president?

MEYNARDO SABILI, LIPA CITY MAYOR: Yes.

RAPPLER: Why?

MEYNARDO SABILI, LIPA CITY MAYOR: You know, this is the first time that I've seen a presidential candidate who has realistic plans for us. Realistic. I'm also a mayor and I know how it feels to be one.

He needs every help he can get in a province where 22 out of 34 mayors are with the Liberal Party.

Binay has pointed out that without political machinery, Duterte is not as threatening as LP bet Mar Roxas.

But Duterte’s running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, disputes this.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The race between Binay and Roxas is for 3rd place. We're confident with our message. We were confident when nobody gave us any attention when we were talking about peace and order. Senator Poe, si Vice President Binay, Mar Roxas, they don't want to talk about peace and order.

These Lipa City residents say they like Duterte’s toughness.

GWEN GONZALES, LIPA RESIDENT: For a change. Usually our previous presidents are too soft so this time, for a change, I'm voting for someone who's tough. Batangueños are known for being tough so that's why l like Duterte because we have similar characteristics.

DELIA EUGENIO, LIPA RESIDENT: First of all, I want our country to change. I think he's courageous and his principles for our country will get rid of the illegal drugs and the criminals.

Later that day, Duterte gives a speech in front of hundreds in Batangas City.

Batangas province, with its 1.53 million voters, is key to a Duterte victory in the Balance of Luzon.

Pia Ranada, Rappler, Batangas City.