Whom does Mayor Duterte represent?

It is important to understand that the mayor also comes from a faction of the ruling class in the Philippines. The main faction is represented by the old oligarchy which has been based in Manila and Luzon. Duterte, like Erap, appears to be outside of the traditional oligarchy or ruling class in the country. The Dutertes are a political clan in Mindanao. His father was a mayor of Danao, Cebu who migrated to Mindanao and became a governor of Davao. His mother was a Roa, a political clan that ruled Leyte for a long time. Duterte’s cousin was the mayor of Cebu City in 1983-86, a position also held by his cousin’s father in 1957-59. The Dutertes are also related to the political clans of Almendras and Durano in Cebu.

The oligarchy that have long ruled the Philippines originated from Luzon, or are otherwise based in Metro Manila. Duterte’s campaign slogan of “Change is coming” projects a “fresh face,” an outsider ready to do battle against the ruling elite in “Imperial Manila.” Imperial Manila is a term local politicians use to denote that the trapos in Luzon and Metro Manila are the ones lording over them, and dictating the terms of sharing of power and resources in government.

 

Duterte, on the other hand, represents the local politicians or warlords who have long been resisting the rule of Imperial Manila. They’ve even come together to press for the implementation of a system of federalism in the country, where the local trapos can be given “equal opportunities” with the trapos in Luzon and Metro Manila. From the point of view of the local trapos, it would be more democratic to divide the spoils of rule among everyone rather than leave it in the hands of factions closer to the Malacañang palace.

No wonder then that Duterte’s campaigns in areas outside Imperial Manila always get the enthusiastic support from local politicians. The issues that Duterte always emphasizes in his speech, but largely left unreported by the media, are the issue of federalism and the problem of war in Mindanao. He always mentions in his speech that the war in Mindanao, which has not been resolved by succeeding governments, will spread nationwide, including in Metro Manila, unless effectively dealt with. People have known of this looming threat for a long time: the periodic bombings of bus stations, LRTs, malls, public markets, and government buildings in several cities outside of Mindanao have been imbedded in people’s psyches.

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