RODRIGO DUTERTE is the greatest mayor in the history of the Philippines.
I did not say that. The Chief Executive Officers of the top companies in Asia dubbed Davao City mayor that. The brave assessment and attribution could not have come from mere fancy or careless assertion.
The Asian CEOs are known for their impeccable methodologies and their keen perceptions, judgment and options are always based on facts. Facts which are not drawn from speculations and extraneous and unverified sources but from hard and pulsating realities.
The statement of the Asian CEOs tells it all. "Before Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City was called the 'Murder Capital of the Philippines' and one of the poorest regions in the country. Today, Davao City is rated as one of the most peaceful cities in Asia and among the Top 10 Most Livable in the entire world, in addition to having a vibrant economy and rising living standards. Many called Rodrigo Duterte the greatest city mayor in the history of the Philippines."
However, the CEOs have a serious predicament which actually confronts people across the nation. Will he run at all? This proceeds from the statements of Duterte himself in his continuing crusade for Federalism that he does not covet the presidency. But then he keeps his audience in suspense and guessing.
As for now, he is the only material considered for the presidency who has definite agenda and clearly it is a vision that Filipinos, tired of unfettered corruption and ineptness in the national government bureaucracy and rising tide of criminality, wanted to be addressed. His slips of the tongue "if I am president" and his bucket lists of what he will do if he is President are precisely what respond to the wish list of the people.
The captains of industries in Asia apparently are no stranger to what is happening in the country and keep track of the records of national and local political leaders. They are correct when they said that Duterte was chosen by land-slide in every election he has run since 1988. Part of their statement reads: "Rodrigo Duterte is easily one of the most popular leaders in our era. His willingness to take extreme personal risks to make positive change for others makes him unique among elected officials of any nation."
Soon these CEOs will come face to face with the man whose achievements they have read, whose sharp tongue and undeterred and classic rebuke against criminals and the corrupt may have stunned them. They are concerned about the upcoming elections which they consider is extremely critical to the country's future. It will determine whether the tremendous economic and social advancements made by this generation of Filipinos can be sustained.
The country, the CEOs said, is about to reach a tipping point that will propel it to First-World Status by the middle of the century. But they warned that a bad choice in the Presidential election could unravel a decade of progress and send a generation of Filipinos back to squalor.
They correctly observed that Philippines has a track record of shooting itself in the foot. "It is only a matter of time until the country 'flushes itself down the toilet' all over again."
Grim warning from the Asian CEOs but it is obvious that they have someone who can avert that. It is apparent that for now the political leader that they are watching closely in their radar screen is the one who is from the south, Rodrigo Duterte, the leader who has the political will and in the words of UP Professor Clarita Carlos: "someone who has fire in his belly and is intelligently courageous."
We have heard Duterte saying "if needed, I will make the supreme sacrifice to save the country."
This country mouse opinion writer has again and again echoed and re-echoed the pleadings of Filipinos who swarmed around Duterte in the scores of Federalism forums which he had had. This time, the chief executive officers in its largest business event will hold what they dub as Asia CEO Forum. They will have Duterte as their guest. If they cannot convince him to finally announce his candidacy for the Presidency, I really do not know what will.