Rodrigo Roa Duterte (born March 28, 1945), who also goes by the nicknames Rody or Digong, is a Filipino lawyer and politician. Duterte is among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines. He has been mayor of Davao City, a highly-urbanized city in Mindanao island, for 7 terms, totalling more than 22 years. He has also served as vice-mayor and congressman in the city.
Early life and education
Duterte was born on March 28, 1945 at 3:51am in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Philippines under the Commonwealth rule to Vicente G. Duterte, who served as Governor of (the then-undivided) Davao and Soledad Roa, a school teacher and a civic leader.
Soledad “Soleng” Roa-Duterte, mother of Rodrigo and widow of the late Vicente Duterte (d. 1988) who served as Davao Provincial Governor from 1959 to 1965, was born on November 14, 1916 in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte to Eleno Roa and Fortunata Gonzales. She finished her elementary and secondary education in her native town. She pursued her college education at the Philippine Normal School in Manila in 1939. She was connected with the Bureau of Public Schools as a teacher when she met and married lawyer Vicente Duterte of Cebu province. Vicente, prior to being provincial governor of Davao, was once a mayor of Danao City in 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 political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives.
The Dutertes came to the Davao Region in 1951. Vicente as a lawyer engaged in private-practice, while Soledad as a teacher taught in the public school. Mrs. Duterte, however, retired as a supervisor in 1952 when her lawyer-husband joined politics. She left government service owing to the demands of a politician-husband. As wife of the governor, she became familiar with the social and economic problems of the people, especially the out-of-school youth, women, children and the disabled.
Rodrigo spent his elementary days at the Sta. Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education at the Holy Cross Academy of Digos in Digos City, Davao del Sur after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in Ateneo de Davao University due to misconduct. For his tertiary education, he took up a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila, where he graduated in 1968. He also obtained a law degree from San Beda College, 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 1977-1979; Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979-1981; Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981-1983; and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983-1986.
Rodrigo’s mother Soledad died on February 4, 2012 at the age of 95.
Duterte has siblings named Benjamin “Bong” Duterte, a one-term city councilor of Davao between 1992-1995, 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 Blue Boy Duterte who run and lost in the First District congressional race in 1998. Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public especially on interviews, showing no hesitation using profanity profusely live on-screen in numerous occasions despite of formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand.
Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight stewardess who hails from Davao City of German American descent, with whom he has 3 children namely: Paolo (“Pulong”), Sara (“Inday Sara”) and Sebastian (“Baste”). Out of his 3 children from Zimmerman, 2 (Paolo and Sara) ventured into politics while Baste, with no interest into politics, ventured into business.
Rodrigo Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering during the course of his marriage with Zimmerman citing it as the reason being for his failed first marriage and had never denied the issue when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte on the other hand never appeared in court and did not protest Zimmerman’s petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Duterte and Zimmerman has been in 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 in the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appears to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage has been declared null and void. 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 resulting to Davao City winning the Galing Pook award for “gender-responsive” governance in 2004.
Despite of his status being listed as single in the Davao City government website, Duterte is currently living with his partner Honeylet, a nurse, with whom he has 1 daughter named Veronica (“Kitty”).
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 also openly supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights and is an avid reader of Robert Ludlum and Sydney Sheldon novels.
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 in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the country. 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. In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was reelected in 2004 and in 2007.
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.” Among the other awards Duterte also refused to accept for Davao City includes the one given by the American Cancer Society and the 2010 anti-smoking award in Singapore
PHOTO 03: LEGITIMATE OPERATION — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (left) stressed in a press briefing on Monday, July 15 that his shoot-to-kill order and the police operation against the kidnap for ransom group last week was legitimate and that he would protect and assist all his policemen involved in the operations. Beside Duterte is criminal lawyer Salvador Panelo who said that the reaction of CHR chief Loretta Ann Rosales to the video footage was cenimatic. (Alexander D. Lopez) FILE PHOTO