By Manny Piñol
A respected leader of the vote-rich Pangasinan province today joined the clamor for Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte to run for President in 2016 saying that the the colorful Davao City leader must "heed the call of the times."
|Dagupan City's former Mayor Al Fernandez|
Long-time Dagupan City Mayor Alipio "Al" Fernandez Jr., former immigration commissioner and now national president of the JC International Senate, said Mayor Duterte "is the kind of leader the country needs today."
Fernandez, who narrowly lost to incumbent Dagupan City Mayor Benjie Lim in the 2013 elections for the first time in a political career which started in 1971, said the burning issues of the times require a President with a grasp of the problems confronting the country and an agenda on how to address the problems.
He cited among the critical issues the recent Mamasapano carnage and the shelved Bangsamoro Basic Law bill, the massive corruption in government and the increasing criminality especially drugs.
"Rody Duterte has the strong leadership character" which the country needs "in these difficult times," Fernandez said.
Fernandez, who admits to having been a long time friend of the Davao City Mayor, said Duterte has the "real good chance" of winning the Presidency.
"Rody Duterte is a seasoned leader and a proven enforcer. He definitely could deliver," said the former Dagupan City Mayor.
He described Duterte as a "highly marketable" political personality whose track record in turning Davao City from a "Killing Fields" of communist assassins in the late 1970s to the early 1980s to become the 4th Safest City in the World to Live In is a remarkable credential for a prospective leader in a country wracked by the Muslim secessionist rebellion in the Southern Philippines and the 42-year-long Communisty insurgency.
Fernandez made his observations and assessment of Duterte a day before the Davao City Mayor is scheduled to arrive in Dagupan City for a one-day Federalism Forum at the Lyceum-Northwestern University.
Duterte is advocating a shift from a Presidential Unitary form of government which the Philippines has today to a Federal Parliamentary form which he said would address not only regional under-development and centralized corruption, but also provide an option to the beleaguered BBL.
The forum, organized and initiated by former Pangasinan Vice Gov. Gonzalo Duque, will be followed by a lunch meeting with members of the Rotary Club of Dagupan City.
News of Duterte's visit in Dagupan were aired over the local radio stations resulting in massive inquiries on whether the Federalism Forum is open to the public.
Several calls were made by radio listeners volunteering to work and campaign for Duterte should he decide to run for President.
Pangasinan has an estimated voting population of 1.8 million.
From Dagupan, Mayor Duterte moves up to Baguio City Feb. 19 and 20 and then to Angeles City, Pampanga on Feb. 23.
The swing of the major cities in Northern Luzon is part of Duterte's "Listening Tour" where he leads the advocacy for Federalism.