IN a public pronouncement which surprised even his closest advisers, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte yesterday said he is willing to run for president “to save the country from being fractured.”
Speaking before at least 2,000 youth and student participants of the First Federalism Forum in Northern Luzon at the Lyceum-Northwestern University in Dagupan City, Duterte, 69, said the Philippines faces an imminent disaster as it is confronted with problems on corruption, criminality and the possible collapse of the peace talks in southern Philippines.
“If only to save this Republic, I could run for President. I could make this sacrifice if only to save this country from being fractured,” said Duterte.
It was the first categorical statement by the colorful and controversial mayor indicating that he has finally yielded to the clamor of the people for him to run for president.
Duterte made the stunning announcement during the open forum, responding to a question fielded by one of the participants who asked what he could do to address the ills of the country.
Following Duterte’s declaration, former Pangasinan Congressman Eric Acuna stood up and told Duterte that it was a moral obligation to save the country.
“It is no longer a personal decision for you. It is your moral obligation. You have to save this country,” Acuna told Duterte during the open forum.
Acuna said he and his group would shortly launch the “Save the Philippines Movement” to mobilize people in Northern Luzon to support Mayor Duterte.
Duterte’s declaration was a radical departure from his position a year ago where he categorically stated that he was not interested to run for President.
In November of 2014, however, Duterte yielded to clamors for him to listen, instead of closing the door outright to calls for him to consider the presidency.
Last month, Duterte agreed to launch the “Listening Tour” nationwide in an effort to advocate for a shift from unitary presidential, which the country has today to a federal parliamentary system.
Duterte said the federal parliamentary form of government will address the neglect of the countryside and the Bangsamoro Problem in the face of the expected rejection of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by Congress and the Senate.
“Finally, we heard the words that we have long been waited for. This is a game changer for the country,” said Dante Jimenez, head of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), an ardent supporter of Mayor Duterte.
The Dagupan Declaration by Mayor Duterte has finally ended the speculation and guessing game on whether he will yield to the clamor of the people for a new brand of leadership in the Philippines.