Davao City underwent drastic albeit favorable change under the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte. The programs and policies devised and executed by the former mayor and his administration were instrumental in reforming a city once dubbed as the murder capital of the Philippines.
Here are some of the notable accomplishments of Davao City during the mayoral leadership and administration of Rodrigo Duterte:
1. Outlawed and prevented discrimination based on ethnicity, religious affiliation, and gender
Working together with her daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte, and acting as a vice mayor of the city, Duterte was instrumental in passing Ordinance No. 0417-12 or the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Davao City in December 2012. This ordinance is pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and generally accepted principles of international law.
This local ordinance outlaws and penalizes “acts and conducts of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, and religious affiliations or beliefs.”
In an interview with Ayan C. Mellejor of the Philippine Daily Inquire, Duterte stressed that he hates discrimination because it breeds contempt and starts conflicts. He further added, “It is divisive and a barrier to social integration between and among people of different faiths, beliefs, sexual orientations, physical attributes, and discordant loyalties.”
A report by Pia Ranada and Editha Caduaya of Rappler also mentioned that Duterte was the first to give the Lumad and Muslim community formal political representation. He did this by designating several Lumads and Muslims as deputy mayors tasked to represent and advance the interest of their respective communities.
Duterte also earned support from different gender rights groups. Note that the city council under his watch passed the Women Development Code in 1997—the first in the country that time. This ordinance does not only protect women in Davao City from discrimination but also allots funds to support gender-sensitive projects.
2. Purged the city of drugs pushers and users while also empowering a city-run treatment and rehabilitation facility
Davao City has a tough stance against drug users and pushers. But not all drug addicts end up dead. The DSWD put up the Davao City Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Drug Dependents or RCDD in 1983—three years before Duterte became mayor.
In 2001 however, the DSWD turned over the facility to the local government. Duterte, while already serving his fourth term as mayor, instructed his local government to channel PHP 12 million to the repair and improvement of the center. The local government now covers all costs associated with its operation.
Situated within a 1.2 hectares of land area, the center has been providing drug abusers and dependents with suitable assistance. An interdisciplinary team provides a multimodal approach to rehabilitation and treatment. This approach includes psychiatric, medical, social, educational or vocational, spiritual and religious, and sports and recreational services.
To entice drug dependents to seek professional help and treatment, Davao City also provides patients with a monthly allowance of PHP 2,000. Take note that the government spends around PHP 17,000 to PHP 20,000 per patient per month according to a report from Rappler.
3. Passed several ordinances and implemented programs that promoted public health and safety
Under the administration of Duterte, Davao City made policies and initiatives that take into consideration the health and safety of his citizens. These include the Anti-Smoking Ordinance, Liquor Ban, Ban on Firecrackers, Ban on Aerial Spraying of Banana Farms, and the Speed Limit Law.
Institutions such as the RCDD and the Emergency Central 911 are also worth mentioning because they further promoted local healthcare services. The whole 911 operation also includes services involving police assistance, urban search and rescue, and fire response. Note that Davao City has the first 911 emergency telephone number in Asia.
The public health programs of Davao City earned Duterte numerous recognitions abroad including an award from the American Cancer Society and an anti-smoking award in Singapore. However, the former mayor refused to accept these recognitions, stating that he was only doing his job as a public official. These same feats also earned Duterte support from local physicians who launched the Duterte Got Doctors Support or DDS in September 2015. This group rallied behind him during his 2016 presidential bid.
4. Urban development to include economic growth and other developments in education and overall community life
Davao City saw economic growth under the watch of Duterte. In 1994 for example, former president Fidel V. Ramos and heads of states of selected Asian countries spearheaded the founding of the East Asian Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA in the city. BIMP-EAGA is an economic cooperation network of selected cities in the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
The city saw further economic milestones during the Duterte administration. In 2011, the London-based City Mayors Foundation ranked Davao City as the 87th among the fastest-growing city in Asia—the only city in the Philippines to reach the top 100. The city had a projected average annual growth of 2.53 percent over a 15-year period according to the foundation.
With regard to feats in education, Davao City won the National Literacy Award 2013 Hall of Fame for being a three-time first-placer under the Outstanding Local Government Unit Highly Urbanized City Category. In their letter to Duterte, the Department of Education awarded Davao City for its inspiring efforts in sustaining exemplary programs in literacy.
Other awards received by Davao City included Most Child-Friendly City in the Philippines 1998-1999, Cleanest and Greenest City in 1999, Most Outstanding Library in the Philippines in 2000, and the Regional Green Banner in 2004, among others.