Rodrigo Duterte

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President Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Roa Duterte (born 28 March 1945 in Maasin, Leyte) is a Filipino lawyer and politician serving as the 16th President of the Philippines. He took oath as President on 30 June 2016. See: FULL TEXT: President Rodrigo Duterte inauguration speech.

He had served as mayor of Davao City for 7 terms or more than 22 years. He has also served as vice-mayor and congressman in the city. In the list of the 2010 most trusted individuals by Reader's Digest, Duterte was ranked fifth among all Filipino politicians included.

Under Duterte's mayorship, the crime rate in Davao had dropped drastically, to the point that the local tourist board can advertise the city from being known as the “murder capital of the Philippines” to being "the most peaceful city in Southeast Asia". Duterte, who has been called "The Punisher" by the Time magazine, has been repeatedly criticized by some locals and by Amnesty International for having or at least allowing small criminals, often teenagers involved in criminal cases such as drugs and robbery, being executed by death squads.

Early Life and Education

He was born on 28 March 1945 in Maasin, Leyte to Vicente Duterte, former Governor of Davao, and Soledad Roa, a school teacher and civic leader.

He finished his primary education at the Sta. Ana Elementary School in Davao City in 1956 and secondary education at the Holy Cross Academy of Digos in Digos City, Davao del Sur. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila in 1968 and a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He is a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University. He passed the exam in 1972 and eventually worked as a Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao.


After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor. Two years later, he ran for mayor and served until 1998. He designated deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government.

In 1998, he won as Representative of the First District of Davao City. From 2001 to 2010, he served as Mayor of Davao.

Under Duterte's leadership, Davao won the National Literacy Hall of Fame Award for being a three-time first-place winner in the Highly Urbanized City category of Outstanding Local Government Unit. Crime figures reportedly went down during his term. From being a crime-infested area, the city transformed into a thriving business hub with 24/7 emergency hotline (Central 911). In June 2015, Davao held the 4th spot as the safest city in the world.

Mayor Duterte used the city government funds to build a Php 12 million drug rehabilitation and treatment center which provides 24-hour services. In 2003, he offered a monthly allowance of Php 2,000 to drug addicts who asked for his help in kicking off the habit. Duterte also visited remote New People's Army (NPA) camps to negotiate peace transaction efforts and advocate diplomacy.

Duterte usually drove around the city twice a week to ensure things are well taken care of. During night patrols, he checked the precinct houses to make sure the cops were not sleeping and to check the detainees and know the crimes they've committed. He used to give groceries to cops as a way to curb their temptation to elicit bribes. However, when he finds a cop drunk while on duty, he personally doles out a trashing.

As a supporter of LGBT rights, he allowed gay candidates in his ticket. He believes that everybody must be represented. In 2009, he criticized the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for kicking out Ang Ladlad, a gay rights group, from its party-list slate. He also helped pass an Anti-Discrimination ordinance in Davao City.

Duterte served as Vice Mayor of Davao from 2010 to 2013. Among the notable ordinances enacted by the city government under Duterte were the following:

  • Firecracker ban
  • Liquor ban (Prohibits the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages from 10 PM to 8AM in public places)
  • Anti-smoking ordinance
  • Family planning methods (In 2005, Php 5,000 was given to those who availed of the city's free tuba; ligation and vasectomy services)

Duterte had been offered the post of the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Simeon Aquino III but rejected all of them. Duterte was Arroyo's anti-crime consultant in 2002. He led an anti-terror task force in achieving peace and order in the country.

Duterte had his own local show in Davao City called “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” ("From the Masses, For the Masses") aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao.

Duterte had declined several awards. He was nominated for the “World Mayor” award in 2014 by The City Mayors Foundation but politely refused it as he said that he did not do it for his own glory and that was what people expected him to do. The said award is given every two years to outstanding leaders who served their communities well. He also refused to accept awards for Davao City, including the one given by the American Cancer Society and the 2010 Anti-Smoking Award in Singapore.

Presidential Campaign

Duterte was urged to run for the Philippine presidency many times but refused such offers on the grounds of a "flawed government system", old age and opposition from his family. He finally declared his intent to run for the nation's highest position on 21 November 2015. He formally filed his certificate of candidacy six days later, 27 November 2015.

According to Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Spokesperson James Jimenez, Duterte's certificate was filed at the main office in Manila through a representative. He formally entered the race as a substitute of Martin Diño, an anti-corruption advocate. His bid was under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, or PDP-Laban.

Substitutions are allowed under the Section 19 of the COMELEC Resolution 9984, provided the substitute belongs to and is nominated by the candidate's party.


Apart from allegations of extrajudicial killings and mudslinging among other candidates at the general elections, Duterte's campaign also hit a proverbial road at times.

In November 2016, when he talked about his experience in Manila during the Papal Visit, Duterte was frustrated by the congested traffic situation at the nation's capital. Maintaining his joking tone, he said, “Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope putang ina ka, umuwi ka na. ‘Wag ka nang magbisita dito.” (“Pope, you son of a bitch, go home. Don’t visit here anymore.”)

Hours after his remarks, he said that it was not intended to attack the pope. He also said that he will travel to the Vatican to ask for forgiveness but opted to write Pope Francis a letter instead. The Vatican replied, saying that the church head appreciated the sentiments.

While the slur has not dented Duterte's bid, few months later, the campaign was put in jeopardy anew when he spoke about the hostage rape-slay incident which occurred at the prison in Davao in 1989.

Allegedly, he said he was mad the hostage takers have raped the slain 36-year-old Australian missionary Jacquelline Hammill. Additionally, he thought the mayor should have been first.

The incident triggered an uproar both in the country and around the globe. Citizens were divided, with half of them being turned off by the mayor's remarks.

Duterte, on the other hand, explained his stance, saying that it was simply “how men talk.” The presidential hopeful apologized to the public regarding his outcome, stating he has “no intention of disrespecting the women and the victims of this horrible crime.”

There were also last-minute attempts to destabilize his presidential journey when then vice-presidential candidate Antonio Trillanes IV accused Duterte of having an ill-gotten wealth worth Php 211 million. In addition, he flaunted Duterte's bank accounts with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). However, the issue received backlash on Trillanes' end and on BPI with regard to bank secrecy.

On 5 May 2016, a television political campaign ad paid for by Senator Trillanes that targeted Duterte drew flak among netizens. The ad showed children reacting to Duterte's controversial remarks and acts. Two days later, Taguig RTC issued a 72-hour TRO that stopped TV stations from airing the ad.

During the last days of the campaign period, outgoing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III called for a united front against Duterte. His trusted aspirant Mar Roxas asked his rivals to unite against the tough talking mayor, whom he cited as a man of uncertainty, a specter of a dictatorship with no regard for honesty, integrity, transparency, responsibility, and even basic decency.


Hours after the closing of the 2016 general elections, the partial and unofficial vote counts were being displayed both by the COMELEC and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), with Duterte already gaining the upper hand of the race from the get-go. The results from COMELEC-GMA Transparency Server displayed Duterte amassing 15,970,018 votes—or covering 38.6% of the entire votes for the president.

With a landslide victory of 16,601,997 votes, Duterte assumed office as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines on 30 June 2016.

Work Experience

  • President, Republic of the Philippines, 30 June 2016-Present
  • Mayor, Davao, 2013-2016
  • Vice Mayor, Davao, 2010-2013
  • Mayor, Davao, Davao, 2001-2010
  • Congressman, 1st District of Davao, 1998-2001
  • Mayor, Davao, Davao, 1992-1998
  • Vice Mayor (OIC), Davao, 1986-1988
  • Lecturer on Criminal Law, Criminal Evidence, and Criminal Procedure Police Academy, Regional Training Center XI
  • Member, Integrated Bar of the Philippines
  • Second Assistant City Prosecutor, City Prosecution Office, Davao City, 1983-1986
  • Third Assistant City Prosecutor, City Prosecution Office, Davao City, 1981-1983
  • Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor, City Prosecution Office, Davao City, 1979-1981
  • Special Counsel, City Prosecution Office, Davao City, 1977-1979


  • Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Member
  • Davao Lions International - Chinatown chapter, Member
  • Davao Practical Shooting Association, Member
  • On Any Sunday Riders, Member


Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Zimmerman, a flight attendant from Davao City who is of German American descent. They have three children: Paolo, Sara, and Sebastian who all ventured into politics.. In 2000, Zimmerman and Duterte's 27-year marriage was annulled. In 2015, Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica.


Diola, Camille. “Rodrigo Duterte formalizes presidential bid’. 15 July 2020)

Wires, Andy. “Controversial mayor Rodrigo Duterte wins Philippine presidential election following incendiary campaign”. ABC News.(Accessed 15 July 2020) “Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in quotes”.BBC.(Accessed 15 July 2020) “EXCLUSIVE: President Aquino calls for united front against Duterte”.CNN Philippines.(Accessed 15 July 2020) “Duterte leads presidential race”. ABS-CBN Halalan 2016.(Accessed 15 July 2020)

" VOTE PH 2016". 27 May 2016)


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