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Rodrigo Duterte

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"Duterte" redirects here. For others with the surname, see Duterte (surname).
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This name uses Philippine naming customs. The middle name or maternal family name is Roa and the surname or paternal family name is Duterte.
Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte June 2016.jpg
16th President of the Philippines
6th President of the Fifth Republic
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
Vice President Leni Robredo
Preceded by Benigno Aquino III
Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2016
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2010
Preceded by Benjamin C. de Guzman
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
February 2, 1988 – March 19, 1998
Preceded by Jacinto T. Rubillar
Succeeded by Benjamin C. de Guzman
Vice Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2010 – June 30, 2013
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Paolo Duterte
In office
May 2, 1986 – November 27, 1987
Officer in Charge
Preceded by Cornelio P. Maskariño
Succeeded by Gilbert G. Abellera
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives
from Davao City's 1st district
In office
June 30, 1998 – June 30, 2001
Preceded by Prospero Nograles
Succeeded by Prospero Nograles
Personal details
Born Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(1945-03-28) March 28, 1945 (age 71)
Maasin, Leyte, Philippines
Political party PDP–Laban (present)
Other political
Kabataang Makabayan[1][2] (1970s)
Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (late 1990s)
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (2011–present)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Zimmerman (m. 1973; ann. 2000)
Domestic partner Cielito Avanceña
Children Paolo (with Zimmerman)
Sara (with Zimmerman)
Sebastian (with Zimmerman)
Veronica (with Avanceña)
Residence Bahay ng Pagbabago[3][4]
Alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines University (A.B.)
San Beda College (LL.B.)
Website Official website
Rodrigo Duterte.png This article is part of a series about
Rodrigo Duterte

President of the Philippines

Member of the House of Representatives from Davao City's 1st district

Mayor of Davao City

Vice Mayor of Davao City

Political parties


Rodrigo Duterte signature.png
Seal of the President of the Philippines.svg

Rodrigo "Rody" Roa Duterte[5] (born March 28, 1945), also known by the nickname Digong, is a Filipino lawyer and politician of Visayan descent serving as the 16th President of the Philippines since 2016.[6][7][8] He is the first Mindanaoan president of the country.[9]

Duterte was among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines and was Mayor of Davao City, a highly urbanized city on Mindanao island, for seven terms, totalling more than 22 years. He has also served as vice-mayor and as congressman for the city.

Nicknamed "The Punisher" by Time, an alleged vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad has been tied to Duterte by human rights organizations and are responsible for the extrajudicial killings of petty criminals and drug dealers.[10][11] Over a period of 20 years, he turned Davao City from the "murder capital of the Philippines" to what tourism organisations now describe as "the most peaceful city in southeast Asia," and what ranks as the world's fourth safest place.[12][13][14] Nonetheless, Duterte has drawn criticism from various sources, particularly the press and the Philippine National Police leadership in the Aquino government, which contest the effectiveness of his policies.[15]

Duterte was urged to run for the Philippine presidency numerous times,[16] but he refused these offers until well into 2015 on the grounds of a "flawed government system", old age and opposition from his family.[17] Nevertheless, on November 21, 2015, he declared his candidacy in the 2016 election contest for the office of the President of the Philippines, and won with a landslide victory, garnering 16,601,997 votes (39.01% of total votes cast, and 6.6 million votes ahead of closest rival Mar Roxas).[18] Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, for a term of six years.[19]

Early life

Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin (now the capital of Southern Leyte but was then part of the insular province of Leyte in the Philippine Commonwealth).[20] His father was Cebuano lawyer Vicente G. Duterte and his mother was Soledad Roa, a native of Cabadbaran, Agusan, who was a school teacher and a civic leader of Maranao descent. Duterte's father Vicente, prior to being provincial governor of (the then-undivided) Davao province, was once an acting mayor of Danao, Cebu. Rodrigo's cousin Ronald, on the other hand, served as Cebu City mayor from 1983 to 1986. Ronald’s father, Ramon Duterte, also held the position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes consider the Cebu-based political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives.[21] Duterte also has relatives from the Roa clan in Leyte through his mother's side.[22] Before they resettled to Davao, Duterte's family briefly lived in his birthplace in Maasin, Leyte, and in his father's hometown in Danao, Cebu, until he was four years old.[23][24]

The Dutertes initially moved to Mindanao in 1948 but still go back and forth to the Visayas until 1949.[25] They finally settled in the Davao Region in 1950. Vicente as a lawyer engaged in private practice, while Soledad taught in public schools as a teacher. Mrs Duterte, however, retired as a supervisor in 1952 when her lawyer-husband entered politics there.


Duterte went to Laboon Elementary School in Maasin, for a year.[22] He spent his remaining elementary days at the Santa Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education in the High School Department of the then Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College) in today's city of Digos in the now defunct Davao province, after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in Ateneo de Davao University High School due to misconduct.[21] At the tertiary level, he graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines in Manila. He also obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law, still in Manila, in 1972. In the same year, he passed the bar exam. Duterte eventually became Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977–79; Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979–81; Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981–83; and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983–86.

Duterte claimed publicly to have shot a fellow student while in law school for allegedly bullying him because of his Visayan origins. His victim, however, survived, and although Duterte was prohibited from participating in the commencement march, he did graduate.[26]

Early political career

Davao City mayor

Duterte (left) with former president Benigno S. Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders at Davao City in 2013

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor. In 1988, he ran for mayor and won, serving until 1998. He set a precedent by designating deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the Philippines. In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st District of Davao City (under the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino coalition). In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was re-elected in 2004 and in 2007.[27]

Davao City under Duterte won the National Literacy Hall of Fame Award for being a three-time first-place winner in the Outstanding Local Government Unit, Highly Urbanized City category. In 2013, Davao City sent rescue and medical teams to Tacloban to give aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known in the country as Typhoon Yolanda. Financial assistance was also given to Bohol and Cebu for the earthquake victims.[28]

One article of Time magazine shows him patrolling in Davao City’s streets on one of his big motorcycles, leading a convoy complete with blaring sirens and M16 rifles. Local news reports show him foregoing the pomp, opting to inspect in a regular taxi, surprising his would-be passengers.[29]

Though vocally supportive of the extra-judicial killings of habitual drug users and dealers, Duterte used city government funds to build a ₱12-million drug rehabilitation and treatment center which provides 24-hour services. In 2003, he offered a ₱2,000 monthly allowance to drug addicts who personally approached him and committed to kick the habit. Duterte is also publicly known for visiting remote New People's Army camps negotiating peace transaction efforts and advocating diplomacy.[29]

Duterte was also the first mayor in the Philippines to give formal representation to the indigenous Lumad and Muslim community, designating deputy mayors to represent their interests in the local government. The anti-discrimination ordinance he mandated, was reportedly a response to news he received that Muslims were being discriminated against by real estate agents.[29]

In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as mayor. He has been offered the Interior Secretary post 4 times, by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III but rejected all of them. In April 2014, he also declined a nomination for the World Mayor Prize, given by an international body to outstanding mayors saying "he was just doing his job."[29] Among the other awards Duterte also refused to accept for Davao City include the one given by the American Cancer Society and the 2010 anti-smoking award in Singapore.[21]

Law and order

Duterte (third from left) leading the city-wide 2015 Torotot Festival.

Through the support of Duterte, the City Council amended ordinance No. 1627, Series of 1994, to impose a prohibition on selling, serving, drinking and consuming alcoholic beverages from 01:00 until 08:00 each morning. Executive Order No. 39 was signed by Duterte, reducing the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City in the interest of public safety and order. Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 to impose an order creating the implementing of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367-12, Series of 2012. Davao City's Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002 by the City Council through the support of Duterte.

Another known accomplishment was that the City Government of Davao was able to acquire 10 more ambulances for central 911 intended for medical emergencies and 42 new mobile patrol vehicles and motorcycles for the Davao City Police Office (the first and only 9-1-1 emergency telephone number in Asia which is also free of charge). Duterte, through Executive Order No. 24, ordered all shopping malls and commercial centers to install, operate and maintain high end and high definition closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all entrance and exit points of their premises. Duterte also passed the city's Women Development Code, the first and only in the country, which aims “to uphold the rights of women and the belief in their worth and dignity as human beings" and pushed for the Magna Carta for Women in Davao. It is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women. This law recognizes, protects, fulfills, and promotes the rights of Filipino women.[30]

Crime rate

Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009

Crime figures reported by Duterte, stated that crime in the city was significantly reduced during the period 1985–2000. Duterte suggested that there had been a decrease in crime from a triple-digit crime rate per 1,000 people in 1985, to 0.8 cases per 10,000 inhabitants in the period 1999 to 2005. Furthermore, according to police statistics, the population in Davao City grew from 1.12 million to 1.44 million between 1999 and 2008 (29 per cent). In the corresponding period, the incidence of reported crime rose from 975 to 3,391 (248 per cent).[31]

In a user-generated survey released by crowd-sourced rating website dated April 30, 2015, Davao City ranked as the ninth safest city in the world.[32] In the following two months, Davao City's rank further moved up to fifth[33] and fourth place, respectively.[34] Numbeo's data was, however, found to be generated by less than 500 users.[35] Official data from the Philippine National Police continues to list Davao City as the fourth highest city by number of murders and with the second highest number of rape incidents in the Philippines.[15] The number of index crimes have significantly decreased since 2013 and 2015, with most killings occurring during police operations.[36]


In 2014, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte initiated the holding of a summit: "I am calling on all responsible leaders in the island, from government and civil society organizations, from the business and academe sectors, the leaders of the Church, the military and the youth, let us all forge a well-informed, united front, so we could craft a collective plan of action for Mindanao’s true identity reflective of what its peoples and tribes truly wish and aspire for", Duterte said in a statement.

Among those who were expected to attend were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Msgr. Fernando Capalla, Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora, former Mindanao Economic Development Council chair Paul G. Dominguez, and retired General Hermogenes Esperon. Local government heads from Mindanao cities, towns and provinces were also expected to attend, as well as Catholic bishops and Muslim religious leaders.

In September 2014, Duterte met with former mayors and governors in an initial effort to revive calls for a federal form of government. The group, which called itself Mindanao Council of Leaders, made their position public after an informal caucus. Present during the said meeting were Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, former Cagayan de Oro mayors Reuben Canoy and Vicente Emano, former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos, and former Davao del Norte representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

A month later, Duterte was in Cebu City and met with Cebu officials. The event was sponsored by the Federal Movement for a Better Philippines and coincided with the induction of its new set of officers held at the Sacred Heart Center in Cebu City.[37]

Presidential bid

Duterte campaigning on a motorcade in Navotas, April 27, 2016

As early as the first quarter of 2015, Duterte made hints to the media of his intention to run for president in the 2016 elections. However, he denied these plans numerous times amidst clamor from his supporters for him to run.

On October 16, 2015, on the last day of filing for certificates of candidacy, Martin Diño filed his intent to run for president under Duterte's party, PDP-Laban. Duterte's supporters clamored for the possibility that Duterte be fielded as a substitute candidate for Diño, in the event that Diño gets disqualified or withdrew. On October 26, 2015, Duterte said on an interview that the deadline for his last decision if he will seek the presidency is on December 10. He also warned the people to abide by the law if he wins.[38] On October 27, PDP-Laban has made it official that Duterte will substitute as the party's presidential bet if aspirant Martin Diño withdraws or is disqualified by the Commission of Elections (Comelec) from the 2016 race.[39] Two days later, PDP-Laban standard bearer Martin Diño officially withdrew his presidential bid and named Duterte as his substitute because of the possibility that Diño might be declared a nuisance candidate by COMELEC.[40]

On October 30, an alleged campaign video of Duterte and Cayetano circulated on social media that put hopes on Duterte's candidacy as Cayetano's running mate. However, Duterte's aide Bong Go said on an interview that Duterte's mind hasn't changed yet but will continue on soul-searching with his family to know if he's going to run in the upcoming elections.[41] On November 1, Duterte said that nothing still hasn't changed and he isn't fit for national office. He also said that he is still waiting for an official communication from his party about his possible candidacy; Duterte will also wait if his daughter will agree to substitute for him at the mayoral race of Davao and he will retire from public service if Sara agreed to do so.[42] On November 2, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) executive Dr. Arwin Serrano said that Martin Diño is deemed to face an election sabotage complaint because of proposing Duterte as his substitute for him, however, Diño denied the allegations that his filing of candidacy is just a front to pave the way for Duterte's possible substitution.[43] In an interview with Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista on November 3, he stated that, although they have noted Diño's withdrawal, he additionally mentioned that they won't move with any further action with regard to a possible substitution until they have Duterte's consent and unless it would be made official with a COC and a certificate of nomination and acceptance from PDP-Laban.[44] Duterte himself then further clarified that his decision of acceptance for the substitution offer would be on the deadline itself come December 10.[45]

A billboard in San Miguel, Manila advertising Rodrigo Duterte's presidential campaign

On November 21 in a private gathering with fraternity brothers from San Beda College of Law, Duterte formally announced his presidential bid and also finally accepted Alan Peter Cayetano's offer to be his running mate.[46] Duterte said he is disappointed over the decision made by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) regarding Grace Poe's citizenship as well as the current administration's handling of the ‘laglag-bala’ issue.[47] Duterte further stated that he will file his candidacy immediately after he reached out to his party.[48]

On November 27, 2015, Duterte filed his certificate of candidacy for president through his representative Atty. Salvador Medialdea in Metro Manila shortly after withdrawing his COC for Davao City mayoralty re-election. The document was filed along with a certificate of nomination and acceptance from PDP-Laban signed by Duterte and the party's vice president, Engr. Salvador Ty. In withdrawing his COC for Davao City mayor, Duterte named his daughter, Sara, as his substitute. Sara formally submitted the document for substitution at Comelec Davao and both COCs were received.[49]

The validity of Duterte's substitution was further assessed by Comelec and on December 7, Comelec rejected a petition to designate Martin Diño as a nuisance candidate[50] and while the Comelec legal department has assured Duterte that the first COC he filed through a representative was valid, he personally filed his COC at the Comelec national office in Intramuros, Manila on December 8 to formalize his bid for the presidency in the 2016 elections. An estimated 500 people showed up, including students from Duterte’s alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines, to express their support.[51][52]

On December 17, Comelec officially recognized Duterte’s substitution of Martin Diño as PDP-Laban’s presidential candidate for the May 2016 elections. Comelec Chairman Andres "Andy" D. Bautista said in a press conference on the same day:

The poll body voted 6–1 in favor of recognizing Duterte’s candidacy. Comelec Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim pointed out that Comelec has two functions — administrative and quasi-judicial. The decision on Duterte’s candidacy, he said, is administrative.[53][54]


Presidential styles of
Rodrigo Roa Duterte[55][56]
Seal of the President of the Philippines.svg
Reference style President Duterte[56]
Spoken style Your President
Alternative style Mr. President, President Mayor[57]

On May 30, 2016, the 16th Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Duterte as the President-elect of the Philippines after he topped the official count by the Congress of the Philippines on May 27, 2016, with 16,601,997 votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, Mar Roxas.[58][59][60]

At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the presidency, after former President Sergio Osmeña. Duterte is also the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President, the second Cebuano to become president, the first Visayan from Mindanao and the fourth Visayan overall (after Osmeña, Roxas and Garcia).[61]

First days

Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines at Malacañang Palace while his children look on, June 30, 2016

Duterte's presidency began following his inauguration on June 30, 2016 at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañang Palace in Manila, which was attended by more than 627 guests.[62] Shortly after his inauguration, Duterte held his first Cabinet meeting to lay out their first agenda, which included the country's disaster risk reduction management, decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the country's main gateway, and expressed his ideas and concerns regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea prior to the announcement of the verdict of the Philippines' arbitration case against China over the issue,[63][64] which the Philippines later won.[65] Four days later, on July 4, Duterte issued his first executive order entitled "Reengineering the Office of the President Towards Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals", allowing his Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., to supervise over several agencies that focus on poverty reduction.[66] In August, Duterte plans to launch a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide complaint hotline, 8888, while also changing the country's emergency telephone number from 117 to 911.[67]

While adjusting to working and residing at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte divides his workweek between Manila and Davao City by spending three days in each city, utilizing the Malacañang of the South while in Davao.[68]


Domestic policy

Anti-drug campaign

During his presidential campaign and transition, Duterte called for the reimposition of capital punishment in the country to execute criminals involved in "heinous" crimes, such as illegal drug trade, insisting on hanging.[70] Capital punishment in the Philippines was abolished by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 24, 2006. After his inauguration, Duterte spoke to journalists in Tondo, Manila, where he urged Filipino citizens to voluntarily kill drug pushers and addicts.[71] A day after his inauguration, Duterte requested for the New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to "disarm and arrest" drug lords.[72]

Duterte presents a chart illustrating the drug trade network of high level drug syndicates in the Philippines during a press conference at the Malacañang Palace, July 7, 2016

That same day, Duterte's appointed Philippine National Police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, warned police officers and personnel involved in illegal drug trade with the option to voluntarily surrender within 48 hours or "take an absence without official leave, continue being a drug lord, and declare war against the police."[73] On July 5, 2016, Duterte revealed the names of five police officials who were allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.[74] On July 7, during a press conference, Duterte presented a chart identifying three Chinese nationals who serve as drug lords in the Philippines, namely Wu Tuan, Peter Lim and Herbert Colangco under the aliases of "Peter Co", "Jaguar" and "Ampang", respectively. The chart illustrated a drug trade network between the two Chinese drug lords and retired police official Marcelo Garbo, who served as an associate to the Chinese drug lords. Wu and Colangco are currently held at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, while Lim is outside the country, the latter Duterte threatened to be killed if he ever enters the country's borders.[75][76] However, Duterte met with Lim at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency office in Davao City on July 16.[77] Chief dela Rosa added that there are 23 mayors on Duterte's list of officials involved in illegal drug trade.[78]

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a "kill list" documenting the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals involved in drug trafficking by police that reported 119 people killed since May 10, 2016 and another 72 people killed since his inauguration on June 30.[79] Lawmakers responded with criticism to the rise of extrajudicial killings called by Duterte and demanded congressional inquiries and investigation on the incidents. Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat urged the Philippine House of Representatives to investigate the "spate of extrajudicial killings and/or summary executions of suspected violators of laws on illegal drugs and other suspected criminals," defending Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution which states that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."[80] Senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima urged Duterte's administration to cease the extrajudicial killings and said that she would file a resolution for the Philippine Senate to conduct an investigation, expressing worry that it could cause disorderly violence in communities.[81] While praising Duterte's effort to eradicate illegal drug trade, the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also asked Duterte to investigate the increasing number of extrajudicial killings, expressing concern over the deaths of alleged drug dealers.[82] The Duterte administration, through Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, responded to the criticism by demanding critics to provide substantive evidence during investigation, which he says the administration is opened to cooperating with.[83]

Mindanao insurgency

Further information: Bangsamoro peace process and Moro conflict

During the Mindanao Hariraya Eid al-Fitr 2016 convention in Davao City on July 8, 2016, Duterte vowed to address the Moro conflict and bring peace in Mindanao, assuring the Filipino Muslim community that "something will change" before the end of his term. He said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) both support his proposal for federalism in the Philippines, which he says is the only solution to the Bangsamoro peace process. Duterte said that if the proposal for the country's shift to federalism fails or is not desired by the Filipino people, he will vow to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. He also added that the Basic Law should benefit both MILF and MNLF, saying he is willing to negotiate with both secessionists to initiate a "reconfiguration" of territory.[84][85]

Controversy and criticism

Zero tolerance policy

Duterte, who has been dubbed "The Punisher" by Time magazine,[86] has been criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch[87] for tolerating extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals via vigilante Davao death squads.[86] In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, "The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive."[88] Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001–2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of "criminals", some of whom were later executed.[89] In July 2005 at a crime summit at the Manila Hotel, the politician said, "Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs".[90]

In 2009 Duterte said: "If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination."[91] In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that, if elected president he, may kill up to 100,000 criminals. After the said confirmation, Duterte challenged human rights officials to file a case against him if they could provide evidence to his links with vigilante groups.[92]

Duterte responded to the reported arrest and subsequent release of a notorious drug lord in Manila by saying: "Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive. You can go out, but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extra-judicial killing? Then I will just bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there, that will no longer be extra-judicial."

Referring to the arrest of a suspected rice smuggler, Duterte spoke out in the state senate saying, "If this guy would go to Davao and starts to unload (smuggled rice)… I will gladly kill him." For these comments, Duterte was attacked in an editorial in The Manila Times, which condemned "the mentality of lawlessness and vigilantism."[94] The newspaper argued that this culture of impunity enabled those in power, including officials, "private warlords and businessmen vigilantes" to take retribution against those they felt had acted against their interests: "They kill journalists exposing corruption and human rights activists exposing abusive police and military men."[94] Following Duterte's comments in relation to killing a person suspected of smuggling rice, the office of the President of the Philippines issued a statement saying, “Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods."[95]

International stage

In 1995, after Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino, was executed in Singapore after confessing to a double murder, Duterte, as Davao City mayor, allegedly burned a flag of Singapore (though this claim was later denied) and joined 1,000 employees of Davao City in protest.[96][97]

In early September 2015, an infamous incident was reported of a tourist being forced to swallow his own cigarette butt in a local bar in Davao City after the tourist refused to comply with the public anti-smoking ordinance of the city. Duterte was personally contacted by the bar owner and went into the bar and forced the tourist to swallow his cigarette butt. Duterte was then met with criticisms especially from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).[98]

Duterte has, however, promised to behave in a "prim and proper" manner on the national and international stage once he is inaugurated as President, to the point that, "almost, I would become holy."[99]

In July 2016, Duterte accused the United Kingdom and the United States of importing terrorism to the Middle East through its interventions, saying: "The U.S. destroyed the Middle East. ... Great Britain and the U.S. will not admit that they forced their way to Iraq and killed Saddam. Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria."[100][101]

Catholic Church

Unlike traditional politicians, Duterte is known for his outspoken anticlerical views, opposing the strong influence of the Church and its clergy and espousing birth control[102] and LGBT rights.[103][104] He has revealed that he was one of the many students who was sexually abused by a priest from his previous school, Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) during circa late 1950s.[105] After he was challenged by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and AdDU officials to name the priest and file a case against him, Duterte then revealed the priest's name as Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ (d. 1975).[106] The Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines confirmed that according to press reports in the United States, in May 2007, the Society of Jesus agreed to a tentative payout of USD16 million to settle claims that Falvey sexually abused at least nine children in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1975. Accusations against Falvey began in 2002 and he was never charged with a crime. Additionally in May 2008, the Diocese of Sacramento paid $100,000 settlement to a person allegedly raped and molested by Mark’s brother, Fr. Arthur Falvey. However, it was not clearly indicated in the report if Mark Falvey was assigned at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao.[107] When asked why he didn't complain when the abuse supposedly happened, Duterte claimed that he was too young to complain about the priest’s abuse and was intimidated by authorities at that time. He also stated that he never disclosed that information after he was expelled and moved to a different high school and especially not to his family.[108]

Duterte was accused of having cursed Pope Francis during the pontiff's visit to the Philippines in January 2015 because it caused traffic congestion, though he immediately apologized publicly, explaining he wasn't cursing the Pope but rather the government's way of preparing the Pope's visit.[109] On December 4, 2015, Duterte along with his executive assistant Bong Go, visited and talked with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Bishop George Rimando, together with Monsignor Paul Cuison to get lectured on Christian Values. Duterte committed to lessen his profanity in public gatherings and even assured that he would donate ₱1,000 to Caritas Davao every time he swears in public. He also stated that he will be planning to visit the Vatican at a later time.[110] Duterte however cancelled his planned trip and instead wrote a letter to Pope Francis dated January 21, 2016. During a campaign rally in Ubay, Bohol, Duterte's camp showed the letter coming from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, signed by Giovanni Angelo Becciu dated February 24, stating that Pope Francis had received his letter and that the Vatican appreciated Duterte’s apology after allegedly cursing Pope Francis in public.[111]

Women's rights

On November 30, 2015, he openly admitted to being a "womanizer".[112] Despite various reports alleging Duterte's fondness on objectifying women, lead women's rights advocate Irene Santiago defended Duterte by stating that Duterte has done much to empower women in his hometown. Santiago gained global prominence as a key organizer of the Beijing Women's Conference in 1995, personally thanked by Hillary Clinton on the main stage.[113] Duterte is also known for banning swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants in Davao City.[114] Party-list group GABRIELA defended Duterte, saying that the people should focus on his track record, and not on the womanizing ways of the Mayor. The group noted that Duterte's kissing of female supporters was sensationalized and hyped by media.[115] Duterte's ex-wife Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman also emphasized in an interview that, despite Duterte's womanizing, he listens to activist women and set up a program that mainstreams “gender and development” issues. Davao City won the Galing Pook award for “gender-responsive” governance in 2004.[116] Duterte also gained prominence for supporting the first-ever Gawad Kalinga Village inside a jail facility which is only located in Davao City. It is a home-type jail with ten cottages built inside the compound, which now serve as home for almost 100 women inmates.[116]

On April 17, 2016, Duterte was the subject of a controversy after he made a remark on the rape of an Australian missionary in one of his rallies for presidential candidacy at the Amoranto Sports Complex on April 12, 2016, with regard to the 1989 Davao hostage crisis.[117] After being condemned widely by many which include various women's groups and the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Duterte later apologized for the incident and acknowledged the comment as a "bad remark" saying he regretted his "gutter language" but would not apologize for being misinterpreted. He insists though that the remark was not a "joke" as reported by some media outlets, saying that he stated it in a narrative. He further said that he was not apologizing for stating the remark reasoning that he made the remark out of "utter anger" when he recalled the events that followed prior to that hostage taking incident.[118][119][120]

On May 31, 2016, Duterte was the subject of a controversy when he "catcalled" journalist Mariz Umali via whistling during a press conference.[121] Umali's husband and fellow journalist, Raffy Tima, posted a Facebook post condemning the disrespecting of his wife.[122] Duterte defended his whistling and dismissed the idea of "catcalling", explaining that it was just a mere "freedom of expression" and that it was again sensationalized and hyped by the media.[123]

Media killings

Duterte has been subjected to criticism from media organizations regarding comments on media killings, especially murder of corrupt media personnel.[124]

Personal life

Duterte is known for being an avid fan of big bikes but detests luxury cars. He once owned a second-hand Harley Davidson and currently a Yamaha Virago. He was once a habitual smoker but he eventually quit after a doctor's suggestion due to health concerns. Duterte is openly supportive of LGBT rights and is an avid reader of Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon novels.[29]

Duterte has his own local show in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa ("From the Masses, For the Masses") aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao. He is also a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University.[125]

In addition to his native Cebuano, Duterte is also fluent in English and Tagalog.


Duterte has siblings named Eleanor Duterte; Benjamin "Bong" Duterte, a one-term city councilor of Davao between 1992 and 1995; younger sister Jocelyn Duterte, who lost in several attempts to grab a Third District city council seat as well as for the mayor post in 2001; and Don "Blue Boy" Duterte who ran and lost in the First District congressional race in 1998. Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in using profanity profusely live on-screen on numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand to abstain.[126][127]

Duterte's children (from L-R): Sebastian, Veronica, Sara and Paolo escort their father (center) to his inauguration ceremony, June 30, 2016
Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica

Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight attendant who hails from Davao City and is of German American descent who also traces her roots in Tuburan, Cebu. They together have three children (from eldest to youngest): Paolo ("Pulong"), Sara ("Inday Sara") and Sebastian ("Bastê"). Paolo and Sara ventured into politics while Baste, with no interest in politics, concentrated on business and surfing.[126] Paolo got married twice, first with Lovelie Sangkola whom he had separated with, and second with January Navares-Duterte, his current wife.[128] Sara is currently married to a fellow lawyer while Baste has 2 kids: a daughter with a former girlfriend and a son with current girlfriend Kate Necesario.[129] In 2012, Duterte made a notorious remark in a media interview regarding an incident where Paolo's name was allegedly linked to a carnapping syndicate led by Ryan Yu. Duterte is infamously quoted as having said: "Kill my son Paolo if he is involved in crime." Paolo was never charged for lack of evidence and eventually won the Davao City vice mayoralty in 2013.[130] Duterte's father Vicente died in 1968 while his mother Soledad died on February 4, 2012, at the age of 95.[131] Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015.[132]

Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering while married to Zimmerman and cited it as the reason for his failed first marriage when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never appeared in court and did not contest Zimmerman’s petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, "Yes, he [Rodrigo] is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it." In 2001, Zimmerman eventually ran for a seat on the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage was declared null and void. Zimmerman eventually joined the campaign trail for Duterte's presidential candidacy in early 2016 called Byaheng Du30 in which she would travel by bus to major cities together with her daughter Sara and a number of delegates.[132]

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica ("Kitty"). Duterte has eight grandchildren, half of whom are Muslims and the other half Christian.[29][133][134]


Rodrigo Duterte has identified himself as hailing from both Cebu and Leyte. His heritage includes Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Malaysian, as well as indigenous descent.

On his paternal side, he shares familial ties with some of the prominent families of the Visayas, particularly the Almendrases & Duranos of Danao, Cebu;[135] as well as shared ancestral descent from the Velosos of Cebu City.[136]

His maternal lineage is part-Chinese but mostly Moro of indigenous Maranao-Kamayo descent, with distant traces of Islamic royalty.[137]


Despite being raised as a communicant of the Catholic Church, on January 19, 2016, while meeting with businessmen in Binondo, Manila, he clarified that he has not attended Mass for quite some time already since he deemed it incompatible with his mayoral responsibilities: "(Kung) pakinggan ko 'yang Ten Commandments, pati 'yong pari diyan, wala na akong magagawa sa pagka-mayor ko" ("If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests, I would not be able to do anything as a mayor"). Duterte then clarified that he had not abandoned God, only "forfeited" his religion for the meantime.[139] He has stated numerous times that he has a "deep, abiding faith in God", but does not believe that he needs a religion to practise his faith.[102]


Duterte personally disclosed that he suffers from Buerger’s disease, an inflammation of blood vessels mostly in the limbs that has been traced to previous habitual smoking, contrary to earlier rumors of throat cancer.[140]


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  135. ^ a b Brothers Facundo & Severo Duterte both married women from Danao; Severo's daughter Beatriz married post-War business magnate Ramon M. Durano, Sr. Their descendants constitute the modern-day political family of the Duranos of Danao, Cebu. Ramon M. Durano, Sr.'s sister Elisea married Paulo Almendras, and their descendants constitute the modern-day Almendrases of Cebu. One of their descendants, Jose Rene Almendras is a former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (acting).
  136. ^ a b The Velosos claim descent from Diego Veloso (a 16th-century Portugese explorer who was recorded to have stopped by the Philippines), who supposedly established a profitable business in the Philippines in the mid-1700's. Duterte's lineage is traced from Diego Veloso's great-great-grandson Eduardo Veloso who is the grandfather of Maximo Veloso.
  137. ^ a b The Roas of Leyte are one of the descendants of Rajah Moda Samporna (born c.1760), a warrior noble from the Sultanate of Balo i and Tagoloan. After a failed slave-raiding party against the local Bukidnon villages, Rajah Samporna and his people made a settlement in Kalambagohan (modern-day Cagayan de Oro) and married a daughter of the local datu (as well as 2 other women), siring 4 male children (2 of them from the legal wife). When Rajah Samporna's family were baptized into the Christian faith in 1779, they were given the surname Neri (from which the modern-day Neris of Cagayanon descend). Other descendants include the Pelaezes, Cabilis, Chavezes, Emanos, etc.
    According to Maguindanaoan tarsilas as well as Malaysian genealogy experts, Rajah Samporna's ancestor is believed to be Sharif Muhammad Kabungsuwan, a Muslim missionary of Arab-Malay ethnicity from Johore (his mother was the daughter of Sultan Iskandar Julkarnain of Malacca), who arrived in Mindanao around 1515 (landing near modern-day Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental) and introduced & preached Islam and settled down in Malabang; as well as becoming the first Sultan of Maguindanao. Accordingly, Rajah Samporna's lineage can then be traced to the bloodlines of Moriatao a Bai (Uato), Maruhom Baraguir (Maguindanao), & Mala Bayabao (Ditsaan Ramain).
    Thru Sharif Kabungsuwan's father Sharif ‘Ali Zein ul-‘Abidin from Hadhramout, accordingly he is the great-great-grandson of Fatima, daughter of Muhammad.
  138. ^ a b c Maximo Veloso y Rojas del Rosario (Eduardo Veloso's grandson; married to Maria Paz Roxas and sired 9 children) had an affair with an unidentified female Duterte (who most likely hailed from Pari-an, Cebu City; her ancestors Bernardo Duterte & Dominga Guzman, who originally hailed from southern Cebu, married & lived in Cebu City in the 1790's) and brought forth their only son Isabelo. Even though Isabelo invariably used Veloso and Duterte as his surnames (and even Duterte y Veloso), his sons Facundo & Severo used Duterte (as attested by legal records); disproving some records saying Máximo eventually married the unindetified Duterte. In some records, her first name was recorded as Dionisia or Francisca; yet her exact name is still unclear.
  139. ^ Ho, Alex (January 23, 2016). "Duterte leaves religion for mayoral duties; sees Roxas as 'useless'". News. CNN Philippines (Mandaluyong). Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  140. ^ Frialde, Mike (December 10, 2015). "Duterte: I may not last 6 years in office". The Philippine Star. Retrieved December 17, 2015. 

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Benigno Aquino III
President of the Philippines