Monday, October 12, 2015

The New Beginning?

People are pushing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for President this 2016 National Elections. Even citizens outside Davao are starting to believe that he is the main solution to our country's predicaments; that he'd solve the long overdue problem of our government - graft and corruption. He says the otherwise, but there are indications that he'd run. Whether he'd really run or not, people who do not yet experience his leadership should have taken a lot of considerations before campaigning him.

Davao City is Duterte's success story. While that remains a fact, Davao's progress was not an overnight success. I have been a resident of Davao City for more than two decades and I have witnessed how it grew to what it is today - a progressive metropolis with citizens religiously following ALL local ordinances mandated by the local government.

Christmas and New Year 2001. I can still remember that it was the last time I saw fireworks illuminating the night sky. The explosions of Judas Belts, kwitis, piccolo, and baby rockets were both deafening and horrifying, and the pungent smell of burnt gunpowder and paper was unbearable. Shortly after, Mayor Duterte announced that through a local ordinance, firecrackers will be totally banned within the 2,444 sq. km jurisdiction of Davao City. Of course, it went through scrupulous consultations and house meetings with the local councils. At first, we were totally against it. How on Earth can we celebrate the yuletide season without fireworks? Years after, Davao City would always be on the naitonal news because of the total firecracker ban. Since then, I only had the chance to see fireworks on TV. We may never celebrate Christmas and New Year like what it was before but there were zero casualties, and the air was very clean. While other cities had reported hundreds or even thousands of firecracker-related injuries and deaths, doctors and nurses in Davao who are on duty during the holidays aren't that stressed compared to their colleagues in other cities.

As years went by, more and more local ordinances were mandated by the city council. Here are some notable city ordinances that had a great impact in shaping the present-day Davao:

  • The Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Bill -  Smoking is strictly prohibited in public areas. It got more stringent in 2012 when then-Mayor Sara Duterte signed the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance and this includes the total ban of shishas and e-cigarettes in all public places. Violating this rule will cost you a fortune. No, not the Fortune cigarette brand.
  • Speed Limit - in the interest of public safety, the mayor had signed the Executive Order No. 39, setting speed limits within the jurisdiction of the city - 60kph for national highways, 40kph in suburbs, and 30kph in the downtown area. And with that, road accidents in the city had decreased dramatically. Abusive drivers have no place in Davao.
  • Anti-Discrimination Law -  For those who didn't know, Davao has an Anti Discrimination Ordinance. The ordinance states that it strictly (and vehemently) forbids any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.

Of course, it is not only the local government under the tutelage of Mayor Digong who had made Davao a progressive city. The huge credit goes to us, the locals. He imposed these rules, and it's up to us whether we follow these or not. Because we grew tired of hearing the broken promises of TRAPOs (traditional politicians), and epal politicians, we unknowingly unified by starting to religiously follow the local ordinances. I won't be a hypocrite, it was hard at first and we kept on complaining during the first few weeks after the implementation of these laws. But, we saw a big change, and we knew that these were drafted for the betterment of the constituents. Citizens outside Davao will never understand our disciplined culture. They say that we live like under the leadership of the the former President Ferdinand Marcos. You know, if Duterte's like Marcos, I wouldn't be alive right now. Our freedom of expression would be stripped off, we would have internet censorship instead of an unlimited internet access, and those who are against him will disappear without a trace.

What we need in our country right now is not a revamp of the basic principles of democracy or an iron fist; it's discipline. If Davaoeños did it, why can't the rest of the country? I mean, we're all Filipinos to begin with, right?

But then again, what choice do we have if we only have an incompetent former cabinet secretary, a beleaguered vice president, and a senator who have some issues in her citizenship?

Think again,

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