In his letter dated October 12, 2015 Rodrigo Duterte said that he would not run for Presidency in 2016: “there was no ambition for me to aspire for the Presidency” On November 21, however, Duterte suddenly announced that he would join the presidential race. What changed his mind was the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision to dismiss the disqualification case of the leading presidential candidate Grace Poe. In Duterte’s mind Poe is not a natural-born Filipino; and thus, she is not qualified to run for the presidential office.
Interestingly, since Duterte’s announcement to enter the presidential race, he has become the preferred candidate by Filipinos. The question then is: Why do Filipinos want him to be their next President? Here are seven possible reasons:
- He is well experienced in politics, government,and administration. Since 1987 he has been actively serving Davao City, first as vice mayor (1987–1988), second as mayor (1988–1998), third as 1st district congressman (1998–2001), fourth as mayor again (2001–2010), fifth as vice mayor again (2010–2013), and then as mayor again (2013–present). In short, Duterte has almost 30 years of experience as a politician before running for President. Filipinos have now learned from the past that what they need is not a TV personality but a true politician who is able to lead them.
- He is not a corrupt politician. The term politician may also refer to “a person who engages in politics out of a wish for personal gain, as realized by holding a public office.” While this definition is true to many politicians, Filipinos believe that it does not apply to Duterte. In fact, they look at Duterte as someone who can clean the Philippines from corruption. In 2010 Reader’s Digest Asia ranked Duterte as fifth most trusted Filipino politician.
- He is a tested political leader. Duterte has proven himself to be a capable leader by transforming Davao City into one of the best cities in the Philippines. Many believe that what he has done to the city, he can also do to the country. Consequently, the masses themselves are the ones urging him to run for President. Usually, it is the politician that wins the voters’ hearts, but in Duterte’s case it is the opposite.
- He is a lawyer by profession. Having a degree in law from San Beda College, Duterte knows how to defend and uphold the constitution. Unfortunately, many celebrity politicians who hold a public office are ignorant of the constitution. They know the science of drama or sports but not the science of politics. They can act on the stage or play on the court but not explain the constitution. Apparently, Filipinos are now tired of having celebrity politicians who don’t have a proper training in politics. So, they want Duterte.
- He is not politically correct. He is not afraid to offend people by telling them what he believes is truth. He does not hesitate to expose the serious problems of the country and offer his radical solutions, even if his solutions go against the norm. Ironically, his sharp words have drawn more supporters rather than harmed his popularity. Filipinos now prefer a sharp but sincere tongue over a sweet but insincere one. They see in Duterte a politician who does what he says.
- He is not afraid to fight against criminals, even the big timers such as drug lords. To let him speak, “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.” During his time the crime rate in Davao has dropped significantly. Now Davao is among the safest cities in the world. Filipinos look for a leader who can restore and maintain peace and security in the country and they think Duterte is that leader.
- He is not after fame. In 2014 he was nominated for the “World Mayor” award but declined this grant. He said, “I did it not for my own glory, but because that was what the people expected me to do.” He may sound arrogant sometimes when he speaks, but deep within him, he is a humble public servant who seeks first the interests of his people. That’s why Filipinos want him to be their next President.
If Duterte becomes the President, however, Filipinos should not expect him to change the Philippines. The truth is he cannot change our country unless we change. And unless God changes us we cannot change, for by nature we cannot change ourselves. We therefore need God, should we wish to experience a real reformation in our land. The heart of the problem in the Philippines lies in the hearts of Filipinos. Without a transformed heart, there will be no true transformation in the nation. I thus pray that God will give the Philippines a leader whose head is sharp, whose heart is sanctified, and whose hands are set to lead the nation back to God.
 Edwin G. Espejo, “Rodrigo Duterte: Sorry, I will not run for president,” accessed November 28, 2015, http://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2016/109018-rodrigo-duterte-not-running-president
 Dictionary.com, s.v. “politician,” accessed November 28, 2015, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/politician?s=t
 “Reader’s Digest ranks Duterte as 5th most trusted RP politician,” accessed November 28, 2015, http://balita.ph/2010/03/15/readers-digest-ranks-duterte-as-5th-most-trusted-rp-politician/
 James Law, “The Philippines’ real-life Punisher, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, urged to run for president,” accessed November 28, 2015, http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/the-philippines-reallife-punisher-davao-city-mayor-rodrigo-duterte-urged-to-run-for-president/news-story/9a15371561b108e18f7157f00f642ea7
 Cited in “17 Things You Didn’t Know About Rodrigo Duterte,” accessed November 28, 2015, http://www.filipiknow.net/rodrigo-duterte/
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