Incoming Vice Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte said his election to the second highest position in the local government could be the start of his long stint as a politician just like his father-president, who governed Davao City for three decades in various local elective posts, and his two older siblings.
“Depende sa tao. Kung ganahan mo, oo (It depends on the people. If they like, yes),” the 32-year old Sebastian, the youngest son of President Rodrigo R. Duterte with ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, told reporters shortly after his inaugural ceremony on Friday.
A newbie in politics, Sebastian admitted to reading books, attending seminars, and asking his older siblings, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and resigned vice mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, who is incoming 1st district representative, about what to expect from his first day and to learn the ropes of his new role as the presiding officer of the 24-member local lawmaking body.
“Of course, that’s why I am here. I have done everything that I need to do. Mao na na ako kinabuhi, ingon ana lang ka simple (This is my life now, it’s as simple as that),” he said.
Before his election as President in 2016, Duterte served as OIC Vice Mayor from 1986 to 1987, was elected Mayor for three terms from 1988 to 1998, Representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001, Mayor from 2001 to 2010, Vice Mayor to his daughter-Mayor from 2010 to 2013, and Mayor from 2013 until 2016.
His daughter Sara served as Vice Mayor from 2007 to 2010, Mayor from 2010 until 2013, elected Mayor again in 2016 when her father ran for president, and re-elected in 2019.
Paolo, the President’s eldest son was councilor from 2008 to 2013, and vice mayor from 2013 to 2016 and 2016 until he resigned in 2018.
Sebastian added he has prepared well for the job, and that he is willing to devote most of his time in public service.
“It is an affiliation, which is new to me but which I am very eager to assume. I come here and with my fervent desire to serve… I may be new in government service but I trust that this desire will be the impetus from where my impact to the city and its people will come about,” he said.
Under Section 456 of the Local Government Code of 1991, the City Vice Mayor shall be the “presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) and sign all warrants drawn on the city treasury for all expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.”
Subject to civil service law, rules and regulations, the Vice Mayo appoints all officials and employees of the City Council except those whose manner of appointment is specifically provided under the Code.
The law also provides that the Vice Mayor will assume the office of the mayor “for the unexpired term of the latter in the event of permanent vacancy”; exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the city mayor in cases of temporary vacancy; and exercise other powers and perform such other duties and functions as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.
Sebastian recognizes there is much to be done for the development of Davao such as addressing the worsening traffic condition and environmental issues, making the health system more accessible and affordable, and maintaining peace and order in the city.
“The local government has done an excellent job in propelling the progress that we are experiencing. Introducing opportunities for the development and positive change, Davao City has gone far from where it was before,” he said.
He also thanked previous officials for their contribution to the growth of the city, which has been “transformed from being a hostile city to being one of the most peaceful and dynamic cities in the Philippines.”
“We are privileged for having been preceded with brilliant people who are instrumental in Davao’s progress. They paved the way for the city to attain its current glory. However, there are still greater things ahead for the city,” he said.
Frustrated over rampant corruption in government, President Duterte told his three children who are now in politics: “for as long as we do not have a clean government, for as long as corruption is there and for as long as there is no law and order, this country even given a 50 years interval at ilagay mo na mga ilang mayors (you put there how many mayors), we would still be in the same level of civilization.”
Duterte said it was not possible for the country to progress if corruption continues.
“For every table in the government, be it in the local or in the national, pagka dumating ‘yang papel diyan meron talaga ‘yan (when the paper comes in). It’s either they delay it and pabalik-balikin ‘yung tao (or keep them from coming back) until the money is given. Plain extortion,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)