File photo by Karlos Manlupig
MANILA, Philippines – Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s firstborn, resigned as Davao City vice mayor on Monday, December 25.
His decision was triggered by the controversies, where his name had been dragged. They include the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu from China through the Bureau of Customs, which the Senate investigated. A few days before Christmas, he had a "very public squabble with my daughter” Isabelle from his first marriage.
"My parents never failed to remind me of the value of time-honored principle of delicadeza, and this is one of those instances of my life that I need to protect my honor and that of my children," he said in his resignation letter, submitted to the Davao City council.
How did Paolo Duterte rise to power in Davao?
From barangay captain to vice mayor
President Rodrigo Duterte held sway over Davao City for two decades. Two of his children followed his footsteps – although much later.
Paolo, the eldest of Duterte’s 3 children with Elizabeth Zimmerman, entered the political arena in 2007. He served as the captain of Barangay Catalunan Grande in Davao City until 2013.
In 2008, he was elected chairman of the city’s Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), giving him a seat in the city council as ABC sectoral representative. He went on to serve as the national vice president for Mindanao of the Liga ng mga Barangay from 2011 to 2013.
Paolo ran unopposed and was eventually elected Davao City vice mayor in 2013. His father won as mayor, replacing daughter Sara who held the seat for 3 years.
While his father won the presidency in the 2016 elections, the younger Duterte was reelected vice mayor with more than half a million votes. He is now second-in-command to his sister over Davao City.
Aside from politics, Paolo is affiliated with the Guardians Brotherhood, Disaster Assistance Rescue Team, Davao Jaycees, and the Free and Accepted Masons Davao Lodge No. 149.
File photo by Editha Caduaya/Rappler
Paolo the 'protector'?
Accusations linking Paolo with drugs and violence came to light when two self-confessed members of the Davao Death Squad surfaced in 2016 and 2017.
Edgar Matobato, a supposed former DDS hitman, alleged that Paolo ordered killings of several people including Cebuano businessman Richard King in 2014 because of a feud over a woman. (‘Killed for no reason’: Matobato’s claims on the Davao Death Squad)
In December 2016, Matobato filed criminal and administrative complaints against Paolo, his father Rodrigo, and 26 other people over alleged summary executions in Davao City.
Matobato also claimed that he was involved in illegal smuggling and was a “protector” of Chinese drug lords in Davao. (READ: Edgar Matobato: Liar or truth-teller?)
This was corroborated by retired Davao policeman Arthur Lascañas who recanted his previous denials about the existence of the death squad during a press conference in March 2016 organized by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV – one of the president's vocal critics.
Before a Senate committee, Lascañas narrated that Paolo sought his help in speeding up the release of a shipment of furniture from China sometime in the early 2010s. He further alleged that the 40-foot container van contained illegal drugs. (READ: Lascañas: Duterte son protected alleged drug lord)
Paolo, however, has consistently denied his involvement in the illegal drug trade.
He then accused Trillanes of “making money in this circus because his political career is already at a dead end.”
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.