LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
Getting to know the people’s choice
IF elections were to be held tomorrow, the next President which the people will vote to succeed Rodrigo R. Duterte will be his own daughter -- the strong-willed Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. This, according to the yearend survey done by Pulse Asia, which ranked her on top of 11 probable presidential candidates.
Mayor Inday, for certain, must be overwhelmed and humbled by the stunning results but she nevertheless asked the survey firms not to include her name in the list knowing full well that there will be more surveys to come. She is not running she says. For now, she said she is focused in battling Covid 19 especially that the new variant was reported to be present in Sabah which makes it closer to home.
The respondents obviously wanted nothing less than the Presidency for the Davao City Mayor, She landed second in the list of Vice President and 3rd in the senate slate.
While some quarters opined that Mayor Inday Sara was boosted by Mindanao that gave her 58% moreover even without Mindanao she still leads in NCR, Balance Luzon (BL), and the Visayas.
If that is not significant enough, Inday Sara is the preferred candidate for President by socio-economic classes ABC, D, and E.
It helps that she bears the name Duterte. The 91% trust and an approval rating of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte holds sway plus the name recall but Mayor Inday has carved a name in the Philippine political arena. If her father was described by UP Prof. Clarita Carlos as intelligently courageous, the daughter, who is a lawyer, is imbued with that and has an impeccable charisma to boot.
When then-Speaker Pantaleon Bebot Alvarez made the colossal mistake of dubbing her an opposition for organizing Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Mayor Inday hit back with a stinging rebuke for indeed why should the President’s daughter, who shaved her head to demonstrate her support for her father during the trying days of the presidential campaign, turn against him? “PRRD is better off without Alvarez”, she fumed. Regional political leaders who had no love for Bebot Alvarez were listening, consulting, and organizing and finally jettisoned the Speaker.
Now take it from the father. “She is the Alpha in the family”. And a piece of post advice to Alvarez and those who undermine her from where she is quietly attending to her job as Mayor he said: “never mess with her”.
But that is political intramurals. How is she as Mayor?
Under her, Davao City, before the pandemic, enjoys an average economic growth of not less than 10 percent. Doing business in the city is no hassle. The city has always been one of the most peaceful cities and livable cities in the world. The city remained to be the commercial and communication center of Mindanao. She has clear priorities. She wants an efficient bus system in Davao to get rid of Jurassic jeepneys. The program was in the implementation stage when Covid came and decided to put it on hold. But all the legal processes and measures are already in place. She also asked for a legislative mandate for power and communications firms to get rid of dangerous and unsightly cables and to lay them underground. The project is now ongoing starting with the main thoroughfares.
Programs of the Department of Public Highways should run parallel to her infrastructure programs. As Chairperson of HnP she wants dispersal of industries so as not to concentrate on opportunities and developments in Davao City alone. Thus, new bypass highways were opened to connect five provinces through Davao City. Meanwhile, a coastal boulevard is finally being constructed to further ease traffic and to remove temporary settlers on the beach fronts. Housing units have been constructed and many more are in the works to be awarded to those affected. This includes those who are living in the river banks. Inday Sara wanted them out of the coastline and riverbanks as they are in constant threats from storm surge and flash floods.
Her concern for the poor is the centerpiece of her programs. In times of need and calamities, she disregards political and geological barriers. During the recent devastating howlers that hit several provinces in Luzon, Mayor Inday Sara surreptitiously brought aid from Davao City government and from Davao-based civic-minded individuals and firms and handed them over to local authorities. . No media coverage, unlike someone we know who brings more photographers than relief goods.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.