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New Philippines president is iron-fisted southern mayor

New Philippines president is iron-fisted southern mayor
71-year-old lawyer Rodrigo Duterte transformed city of Davao from crime ridden hovel to peaceful and investment friendly


By Roy Ramos

ZAMBOANGA, the Philippines (AA) - Rodrigo Duterte will be the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, and the first from southern Mindanao island.

With Mar Roxas, the anointed candidate of outgoing Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, conceding defeat Tuesday, and Sen. Grace Poe conceding overnight Monday, Duterte is now all but in the presidential Palace.

Duterte was a government prosecutor before he was elected vice mayor and then mayor of Davao City -- a major bustling city in the south -- in 1988.

The 71-year-old lawyer served as mayor for 22 years, during which time he transformed the city from a crime ridden hovel to a peaceful and investment-friendly city.

On his watch, Duterte placed hundreds of surveillance cameras in strategic places all over the city to monitor criminal activities, but in 2015, Amnesty International alleged that “death squads” under his control were responsible for 700 extrajudicial executions in the region.

Duterte is reported to have responded that it was more like 1,700.

Davao was ranked as the fifth safest place in the world in 2015 by survey site Numbeo.com.

It became the Philippines' first city to declare a no smoking ban, entertainment spots were told to close at midnight, and the speed limit was lowered to 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 mph) within a seven kilometer radius of Davao.

The devout Christian has also backed the government's peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and southern Moro Muslims calls for greater autonomy.

He has said his ties with local Muslims have been cemented through the marriage of his eldest son, Davao vice mayor Paolo, to a local Muslim girl.

“I have grandchildren who are either Muslim or Christian. Would I want to see a situation in the future where even my own grandchildren would be dragged into this conflict?” the Mindanao Times reported him as saying in January 2015.

Duterte was born in the central province of Leyte to parents lawyer Vicente G. Duterte and Soledad, a school teacher and a civic leader.

His father was also a politician who served as governor and mayor in the region of Cebu.

He studied political science at the Lyceum University in capital Manila, where one of his professors was Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philipppines.

He took law at the San Beda College and passed the bar exam in 1972.

Duterte is separated from his wife of German descent.

He has four children -- lawyer Sarah Duterte-Carpio, Paolo, Sebastian -- and Veronica.

Speaking to reporters hours after Duterte claimed victory Tuesday, Duterte spokesman Peter Lavina said that once sworn in he will push to rewrite the constitution and change to a federal system of government.

"[The plan] will require a wide national consensus beginning with asking congress to call for a constitutional convention,” he added.

“There will be major rewriting of our constitution”.

source: News Feed
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