WILL he or will he not? That is the question that continues to bug and bog our minds as we listen to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte in his television program, in the interviews with the media, in his speeches as he goes around the country pushing for federalism. But that is simply because, we only want to hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see.

Here’s this guy who is fanning the idea of federalism like no one has ever before. True, there was Reuben Canoy in the days of yore, a time when my young reporters and even a smattering of editors were not even conceived yet in the minds of their mothers.

But admit it, all Canoy did was talk to a few and write a book or two that were mostly self-published at that and did not quite stir up interest in the manner of writing. Now, we have a person who has the charisma that makes people take notice and listen, but we do not hear federalism and how it works.

We hear President. We hear 2016. Had I been Duterte, I too would play around, just for fun, knowing that my audience aren’t listening to the federalism message anyway and would rather hear about the presidential race.

Friends have one complaint in common; friends who travel a lot because of work. That in every conversation and meetings and business deadlines they are doing outside the city, just about everyone would want to get their “expert opinion” on whether Duterte will really run or not.

Suddenly, the mere mention that you are from Davao City makes you an “expert” on how Duterte’s mind works. Of course, very few Dabawenyo can resist being given such importance, and so they lap it up and pass on stories upon stories complemented by their personal knowledge about the mayor they have had since 1988, barely able to guess correctly or state with conviction what years were he not the mayor.

It must be frustrating on the mayor’s part to say something and yet for people to be interested in an entirely different thing. Will he or will he not? He won’t… but there is always a but.

In his political career since 1988, he has always lived with the but that no one else but him will ever know the answer to. Rather, no one else but him and a sprinkling of others sworn to secrecy upon the pain of death (joke!), but yes, not only does he have the personality that calls on people to listen (never mind if they waited long hours just to, and never mind if the mayor takes another hour or two of talking), he also elicits loyalty from those around him.

Will he or will he not?

We can never know for sure until the last minute of the filing for certificates of candidacy. But he definitely will not if there will be someone else aside from the tired and soiled lineup we are getting so far. The mayor may be someone that other people build their dreams upon and about, but he is also human who reads the news and is affected by the hubris that the discerning Filipino people are made to witness, everyday.