Six years later, the City of Davao is more vibrant and energized than ever. As I write this column while in a hotel I frequent here in Davao, I cannot help but feel amazed with how this city has progressed since 2016, the start of the Duterte administration. What makes it more fantastic is that the end of the Duterte presidency did not spell the end of Davao’s progress, rather it appears to be only the beginning.
Davao City is prouder with the victory of Mayor Sara Duterte as the country’s first Vice President from Mindanao. We all witnessed the oath-taking of the Vice President-elect which was attended by the Philippines’ who’s who, the diplomatic corps, and the President-elect and his family. The oath-taking ceremony was done meticulously to ensure that all VIP attendees were safe and well. It was also the first time such a ceremony was done in Mindanao.
This writer also had the opportunity to have dinner with Davao City Mayor-elect Baste Duterte, who, at 34 years old, is young yet experienced enough to lead the biggest city in the Philippines, and the second biggest city in the world. The Mayor-elect, with his tattoos and sincerity in speaking, can potentially be an icon or symbol of the next generation style of leadership for the Philippines, similar to what his sister is currently doing. The Mayor-elect is given the mandate to continue the triumphs and achievements his father and sister have done as previous Mayors of Davao City, and his new ideas appear to be right smack what is needed by this growing city.
Notably, Vice President-elect Sara and Mayor-elect Baste both shattered records in their respective victories. Sara got the highest number of votes received by a nationally elected candidate in Philippine history, while Baste received the highest number of votes in the Davao City mayoral elections in history. These are quite telling from a family that has been leading Davao City for decades — their people love them, and this has resonated not just in Mindanao, but in the entire Philippines.
Looking around the city, we see countless infrastructure and construction projects. New condominium and office buildings have been sprouting out. There are restaurants at every corner, signaling an increase in purchasing power for the locals. Even the Mayor-elect commented that there are a lot of coffee shops now in Davao, although traffic has been worsening, and he knows there must be a solution to this soon.
There is excitement in the approval of the Davao-Samal bridge, which has been decades in the making. A tunnel will also be built as part of a new bypass road that will allow vehicles to avoid the city center when traveling from Davao del Sur to Davao del Norte. There are also proactive efforts to move more economic activity away from the city center, towards the areas nearing the neighboring provinces with the Davao region. The city is also hopeful for the start of the proposed Mindanao railway that will connect Davao to Tagum and Digos by rail, which will further spur growth around the region.
Regardless of what the people say, the Duterte family has done well in the leadership in Davao and the country. President Rodrigo Duterte enjoyed record-breaking satisfaction ratings that are envied throughout the world. May this family live on for a hundred more years and lead us to progress.
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