MANILA, Philippines – “I will stop criminality, stop corruption, and fix government.”
This is one line often heard in Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches alongside the deftly delivered jokes and overflowing expletives. (READ: 22 things to know about 'Duterte Harry')
With his last-minute filing of candidacy, Duterte has just made the presidential race more exciting. His greatest asset is the reputation of Davao City as one of the safest, most liveable cities in the country – a reputation many credit to his 22 years as its mayor.
Nicknamed “The Punisher,” he is known for his iron-fisted approach against criminals. A boon or a bane for his presidential bid? It depends who you ask.
So what does Duterte have to offer the Philippines?
As part of Rappler #PHVote's "The Leader I Want" series, we look at his stand on key issues that the next president will have to address: corruption, social inequality, climate change and disasters, foreign policy, OFWs, and the peace process.
Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Duterte should be the next leader of the country.
Corrupt politicians, policemen, Customs personnel, and soldiers are among Duterte’s enemies, as he is not scared to admit.
As president, Duterte says he will abolish pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). No one in government, including himself, will hold lump sums.
He will also “open all the books” in government, being a staunch supporter of the Freedom of Information bill.
If lawmakers try to impeach him to retain their pork barrel, he said he would close down Congress altogether.
Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler
To stop police and military from asking for grease money from businessmen, he will double their salaries.
Duterte’s record is clean of any corruption allegations. A visit to his home revealed a simple lifestyle.
2. Social inequality
Duterte believes the root cause of poverty, especially in rural areas and in Mindanao, is the concentration of power and wealth in Metro Manila.
If elected president, he will strongly push for a shift to a federalist form of government. This means local government units will have more independence from the national or federal government, and will be able to retain most of their income for their own development.
He will also push for tax reform. Under his watch, those earning less than P20,000 will not get taxed. He also promises to end contractualization.
To grow the economy, he wants to provide the best possible environment for businesses to thrive.
He will require government offices to release permits within 72 hours, a policy he has implemented in Davao City. Metro Manila congestion, a chief complaint of investors, will be solved by improving transportation infrastructure.
He wants to make more use of Clark International Airport and the Batangas port while building a fast train and adding 30 or 50 carriages to existing train lines.
3. Climate change and disasters
Duterte, as a long-time mayor, has experience in handling natural disasters, notably Typhoon Pablo which struck the Davao region in 2012.
Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler
To reduce the country’s carbon emissions, he said he will install state-of-the-art anti-pollution equipment and will crack down on dirty factories.
He is also not keen on the mining industry, saying the adverse effects of mining disasters are still being felt by communities.
4. Foreign policy
Duterte prefers bilateral talks with China when it comes to the maritime dispute. He has said a non-confrontational and less formal approach to China would be more effective in coming to an agreement.
However, he will be much less forgiving if the Chinese were to apprehend Filipino fishermen who depend on the disputed waters for their livelihood.
And if China still refuses to talk to the Philippines?
Duterte said, “If you can’t stop fucking with us, you’ll see me standing on Spratlys and you’ll just have to kill me.”
This is the same local chief executive who burned the Singapore flag after the Singaporean government rebuffed then President Fidel V. Ramos’ appeal to postpone the execution of Flor Contemplacion, a domestic worker accused of murder.
Customs personnel are planting bullets in the bags of innocent OFWs? He’ll make them eat bullets. He also declared he would lawyer for OFWs victimized by the alleged scam.
He called the controversial balikbayan box plan of Customs “insensitive and callous”, saying safeguards against illegal activities can be implemented by forwarding companies from the points of shipment.
6. Peace process in Mindanao
“If the Bangsamoro Basic Law does not pass or is a watered-down version, nothing short of federalism will appease the Moro in Mindanao,” Duterte has said many times.
Federalism, he said, will give the various Moro tribes the independence they have craved for since the Spaniards set foot in the Philippines in the 16th century.
Although he supports the BBL in principle, Duterte is against certain provisions of the original bill.
As the longest-serving mayor of Mindanao’s largest city, Duterte has seen the Mindanao conflict up close and believes he knows enough about the region and its people to understand its roots.
He has involved Mindanao tribes in governance by designating “vice mayors” for each tribe.
He has fostered a relationship with another armed group in the region: the New People’s Army (NPA).
Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler
If elected, one of his priorities is to stop the 46-year-old communist insurgency. He has asked the NPA rebels to “come down from the mountains” and talk about peace.
Read Rappler's "The Leader I Want Series":
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.