Vox Populi, Vox Dei
Angeles City, Pampanga – Civic, village and business leaders of Pampanga “cornered” the still evasive Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte and asked him to run for Philippine President by raising their hands during a Forum on Federalism at the Mimosa Convention Center inside the Clark Economic Freezone in Angeles City.
While the subject of the Forum was Federalism as the answer to the neglect in the development of the countryside and as an option to the troubled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is expected to be rejected by Congress, questions raised after Duterte’s speech inevitably moved toward the issue of the Presidency.
A local businessman stood up during the open forum and asked the participants whether they believed Duterte should run for President, a question which was met with raised hands and applause.
“Hindi po ninyo kagustuhan ito. Kagustuhan po ito ng mga tao at may sinasabi po tayo Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” the local businessman said.
Duterte jokingly covered his face with the table napkin but refused to address directly the question.
“Capampangans like his style of leadership,” said Joselito C. Mercado, former president of the Clark Investors and Locators.
Carmen Tayag Mctavish, wife of boxing referee Bruce Mctavish, said Duterte’s reputation of being “clean” on the issue of corruption and his political will attract businessmen and investors.
Marco Nepomuceno, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, said Duterte’s advocacy against corruption and criminality puts him ahead of all the other potential presidential contenders.
While Duterte has continued to be evasive to questions on whether his “Listening Tour” which is actually aimed at advocating a shift from the Presidential Unitary form of government in the country to Federal Parliamentary was an indication that he was feeling the pulse of the people who are clamoring for a drastic change in government today.
He was still evasive in Angeles City yesterday where he held two meetings, in the Angeles University Foundation in downtown Angeles City in the morning where he was joined by Angeles City Mayor Ed Pamintuan and AUF President Manny Angeles, and later at the Mimosa Convention Center where he was joined by Clark Development Corporation executive Art Tugade and Capt. Danilo Abad, President of the Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA).
Last week in Dagupan City, however, Duterte said that he could run for President “if only to save the country from being fractured” citing the worsening problems in corruption and the feared collapse of the peace process in the Southern Philippines where government is engaging the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a peace deal.
The colorful and controversial Davao City Mayor, however, has softened his position on the issue of the Presidency, which he addressed with a dismissive and categorical “I’m not interested” answer last year to an “I keep an open mind” response in an interview with a major TV network lately.
During the forum at the Mimosa Convention Center yesterday, Duterte also said that a Federal system of government could spur the growth and development of regional economic zones like the Clark Economic Freezone and enhance the utilization of the Clark International Airport.
At the AUF on February 24, Mayor Duterte also shared lunch with Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, Cong. Yeng Guiao and Mayor Pamintuan who celebrated his birthday.