Thursday, April 23, 2015


It was another rousing colloquium for the Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs (Anvil Business Club), as members and guests – nearly two hundred of them – went in droves and converged at the imposing "Chardonnay by Astoria" ballroom to listen to Davao City's incomparably audacious Mayor, the Honorable Rodrigo Duterte, as he shared his colorful life story and revealed his aspirations for the nation, during the Club's 4th Business Exchange Forum.
Draped in his proverbial "work clothes," the feisty – yet surprisingly soft-spoken – hizzoner, who flew in
from Davao exclusively for this event, was certainly in his element, as he enlightened his audience with a short but engaging history lesson about Mindanao, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan's arrival in the islands in 1521, all the way to the tragedy that befell the "SAF 44" in Mamasapano last January. While his forty-five minute talk was peppered with... er... colorful expletives, there was no denying that Mayor Duterte's straightforward honesty made him too much of a verbal gunslinger that his "quotable" statements carried with them the firepower of a full-fledged army – which actually endeared him more with the audience.
Davao’s “sentinel of crime” has sufficiently shed light on a number of pressing issues which – until recently – have lingered long in the minds of many in our audience. He adroitly answered even the most disputed of questions with such straightforward candor, and elucidated them with such clarity that they silence even the most incorrigible skeptic. He minced no words about his disdain for drug dealers and other criminal elements ("If I catch you dealing with drugs, you will never leave Davao City alive by daybreak.."); his Zero Corruption drive ("Any attempt to bribe our officials or employees by businessmen will have their applications and permits thrown to the waste basket..."); and his thoughts on the flawed penal system ("I will look for a dilapidated ship which could be left afloat in the middle of the ocean and keep these hardened criminals there...").
And while he repeated his oft-proclaimed assertion that he will never run for president, the tough-talking mayor revealed some hints on what the country will be like IF he were to be elected – in his own words:
1. "If after one year, no reform has taken place or if I cannot penetrate the political structures including what is right and what is wrong, I will declare a revolutionary government. I will close Congress, everything. I will forbid government to go into business, the private corporations."
2. "The BIR, the Bureau of Customs, I'll have them all semi-privatized, just to keep the integrity of the money of government."
3. "I will not embark on new projects. I will simply choose to rehabilitate existing ones. Then I will spend the money on the education of our children."
4. "While there is no perfect system of government, the Unitary form that we have now has not worked well for us, given the fact that we are an ethnically diverse country living in over 7,000 islands. The Unitary form of government has centralized power in Metro Manila; it has also centralized corruption and prevented the growth of the regions who are left with very little share of the national wealth. Federalism could prove to be a more viable option to address the restive Bangsamoro in the Southern Philippines, who are seeking self-governance."
While his non-conformist methods of tackling felonies have received mixed reviews from both local and global watchdogs, it is difficult to deny the fact that Davao City’s crime rate – which was previously dubbed as the “murder capital of the nation” – has dramatically plummeted since Mayor Duterte assumed office in 1988 to what tourism organizations now call the “most peaceful city in Southeast Asia.”
Indeed, the browbeating guest speaker – whom Time Magazine has appropriately nicknamed “The Punisher” for his unconventional policing tactics – ennobled the Club's Business Exchange Forum that evening, not only with his venerable presence; but also with his far-reaching vision for the country and the extraordinary lengths he will go to make it happen. And judging by the almost endless stream of admirers lining up for a "selfie" with him that evening (now, that's a FIRST!), it became clearly apparent that he had his audience at "hello."
Fortunately, it seems that the good mayor has decided to reciprocate the Club's warm gesture by staying and mingling with the group. Heck, he was even the last person to leave the venue (at 1:00 am) – long after every member of the audience has departed. Now, that's another FIRST for the Anvil Business Club!

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