By Manny Piñol
The Duterte for President 2016 Movement, inspired by the surprise No. 3 ranking of the Davao City Mayor in the recent Presidential prospects survey, shifts to high gear with the resumption of the nation-wide “Listening Tour”in Iligan City.
Duterte was guest speaker on Tuesday during graduation of about 1,600 students of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). More than 5,000 people witnessed the commencement exercise.
“There is no turning back,” said a key leader of the Movement adding that Mayor Rody Duterte stands as the only viable Presidential prospect who could address the massive corruption in government, criminality and drugs, the trouble in Mindanao and the seemingly unstoppable encroachment of economic and military giant China into the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte, who has just turned 70, has not categorically declared that he is willing to run for President but his participation in the “Listening Tour” is seen as a softening of his hard-line position rejecting the idea.
While the “Listening Tour” is presented as part of the advocacy to convince the country to shift from the Unitary Presidential to a Federal Parliamentary form of government, it is also considered as a yardstick to determine the mass support for the move to push Duterte to vie for the Presidency in 2016.
In the recent survey conducted by a national polling firm to determine the standing of the known Presidential prospects, Duterte, whose name was included in the survey for the first time, came out of nowhere to tie former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in 3rd and 4th places.
Duterte’s 23-year political career unblemished by corruption, his no-nonsense approach at addressing drugs and criminality and his unparalleled ability to deal with rebel and secessionist groups have turned him into a modern-day legend in principled leadership in a country deeply mired in corruption and insecurity.
His advocacy for a Federal Parliamentary form of government for the Philippines which would result in the establishment of highly-autonomous Federal States has captured the imagination of people, especially those living in the remote and often neglected regions of the country.
From Iligan City, the Duterte group moves to Tagaytay City on April 11, Bukidnon on April 15, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro on April 22, Daet, Camarines Norte on April 23, Masbate on April 24 and Pagadian City on April 27.
“This hectic schedule should erase all doubts on Mayor Duterte’s willingness to listen to the voices of the people,” said a Duterte confidante.