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PUBLISHER’S NOTES| Rody Duterte, an `enigma’

After having left the Aquino administration in 2010, I went back to the private sector and did consultancies and resumed writing my regular “Publisher’s Note” column at the Mindanao Times. At that time Rodrigo Duterte was City Mayor of Davao. Here’s one column article I wrote that time.
NIGHT “PROWLER” — A few months later, in 2011 when my mother Amparo died. It was past midnight at our mother’s   wake at the Pieta lounge of the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Davao City when  Mayor Rody Duterte, walked in.  We were already ready to go home after a tiring day but he quietly joined us, still looking fresh. He was still starting his day!
We chatted mostly about good ol’ days with my brothers Jimmy, Boyet, Charlie Aldevera, ( his bosom friend) and  Ferdinand “Tikboy” Centeno who was his co-boarder in Digos during our high school days. We didn’t  notice it but it was 3 a.m. early dawn when we stood up to go home. Rody was still off to  somewhere for the rest of the remaining dark hours. Unknown to many, he’s a night owl or ” night prowler”. He’s mostly indoors from morning till noon, and then leaves the house afternoon  and back  home at the wee hours of the morning.
NDF RESOURCE  PERSON —  Rodrigo Roa Duterte is an enigma. To many who know him well, he is predictable. For others, he is puzzling and full of surprises. He is now again in the international news for his reported acceptance as “resource person” of the National Democratic Front  (NDF) in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government. He simply clarified  this by saying that he will be glad to be  adviser to both the government and the NDF for the sake of achieving peace. He said he has sworn to defend and support the Philippine Constitution and he would do no less to keep faith with that allegiance, his expression of  support to the NDF notwithstanding.
Many of my friends had been asking me  how well I knew Rody . He is also “Digong” to friends (and foes alike)who wish to show familiarity. We’ve been good friends for sometime now. But he is still something like an enigma to me.
NO NONSENSE –Being a lawyer and a prosecuting fiscal once, he is steeped in legalism and rudiments of law and procedure. He finished law at San Beda in Manila while I went to Davao City’s Ateneo law school. While I was president of the barristers’ Davao integrated bar association, he was a main resource person in a regular radio program called “Katarungan” which was an inter-active forum   explaining  in Cebuano the law understandable to the lowly masses. The Dutertes came originally from Cebu and Rody spoke simple and precise Cebuano dialect that penetrates the heart.
But he is known more for his no-nonsense, “damn the torpedoes” attitude where he openly speaks out his mind,  where he spits out what he thinks in the language of the “masa”, not minding the  “blips” that usually puncture his normal  spiel and expletives  on TV.    His temper is also volatile and when he starts internalizing something that gets his ire, his expletives and gnashing teeth show it all. But he has a big  heart for the unfortunate and the downtrodden, the forgotten ones, the poor.
UNCONVENTIONAL —    His unconventional ways are too open and public  for everyone to see. He had bruising personal conflicts with his political adversaries, like former Davao congressman Prospero “Boy” Nograles. Or even with  military or police officers who also could not stand his guts. I once pacified him and General Matillano, police regional commander, a  RAM member and also known for his gutsy ways.  Both  were both girding for a gun duel due to some misunderstanding when I arranged for a reconciliation or a “cessation”.  His running spat with the late Luis Santos, our former city mayor, was also well known.
Then of course, his public disdain, anger and contempt for the lawless is legendary. He would mince no words in publicly warning and threatening them. Whether his publicly announced “death wish” for the bad would go to the next lethal level, is something that is still subject of speculation. His supposed ties with the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) is  an issue that continues to hound (nay popularize)  him up to the present. Then that popular story about a drug pusher who was on board an airborne helicopter and he happened to sit next to that bad guy who “accidentally” plunged  to his death.
DEATH WISH –But he continues to thirst for a “legal” encounter. I hope I am  not  really exposing or jeopardizing  his cover and his modus operandi,   but I know him to be “prowling” those  days the city’s dark areas, driving alone but with cocked firearm,  disguising  as an ordinary taxi driver and hoping some bad guys would  happen to flag him down for a planned holdup and make his day.   So far, he had no luck yet in this “death wish”.  And the bad guys are still lucky  so far.
AN ENIGMA — Yes, he’s an enigma. A stickler for the basic rule of law but also someone who will not hesitate to go to great lengths to get things done for a higher good; a family man who is publicly affectionate to his family and loved ones but who also has the tendency to “spread his affection beyond family” ( you know what I mean. lol) ; he’s compassionate  but also  a seemingly  merciless man; a simple but also a complicated individual; more often times a quiet, timid individual but loud and angry at the call of the moment; a stern and firm one but who is easy to tears  when his moments come.
His greatest affection  is his  mother,  Soledad “Nanay Soling” Duterte.
That’s the Rody Duterte I know. He’s inscrutable but at times predictable, hard-hitting but also soft in the heart. It’s like asking someone’s marital status and the answer is “complicated”. He’s something   like an “enigma” to me.


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