RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE, mayor of Davao City for more than two decades -- will he make it this time as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines?
If you are to base on his Facebook supporters and the frequency of his name being mentioned in social media by millions of Filipinos all over the world, one could say that Duterte has a big chance of getting elected president in the May 2016 polls.
But as Duterte himself admitted, Facebook likes do not make one get the presidency. Many would concur with this but at the same time admit that it cannot be denied how big the influence of social media is in this year's electoral race.
Some even touted that this just might be the first time that a president is elected because of the power of social media. If so, then many Duterte supporters are already singing hallelujah this early.
According to Facebook, a total of 12 million people around the world participated in conversations about the Philippine elections from November 20, 2015 to March 8, 2016, resulting in more than 81 million interactions.
Out of over 49 million Facebook users in the country, more than 20 percent are “actively engaged and are sharing their opinions on key election issues."
In a Rappler report recently, it said that Duterte remains the most talked about presidential candidate. Duterte peaked mid-November when he announced that he was running for president.
But the million dollar question however is, how will these queries and likes in the internet translate into votes for Duterte on May 9?
Peter Laviña, Duterte spokesman, said that it is truly a big challenge for them how to convert online power to offline vote.
"We are currently running a campaign to register our supporters online through our websites so we will determine who are voters, who are not. We are also employing the same via SMS. We will not be able to do this 100 percent but we will have a fair idea by election day if we can mobilize the bulk of this online power," said Laviña.
Another indicator of a strong political campaign by Duterte is the huge attendance in all rallies of the mayor be it in Mindanao, Visayas or Luzon. True even in areas known as bailiwick of other presidentiables.
Duterte also has the habit of paying courtesy call to incumbent officials in areas he visits whether they be political allies or not. And more often than not, the incumbents would also welcome the mayor to their turf and give him a warm welcome. As they say, politics is a game of addition.
Duterte has also been receiving endorsements from organizations and personalities left and right.
Latest to endorse him were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Moro National Liberation Front chair Nur Misuari, singer actress Aiza Seguerra and many more. Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chair Ghadzali Jaafar also addressed Duterte as "mayor and president" during his visit to the MILF's Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Joma Sison of the Communist Party of the Philippines has also expressed his preference for Duterte as the next president over other candidates.
Even in various surveys conducted by different groups, Duterte is also in the running for the top position. In Mindanao, the mayor is the overwhelming choice with an average of 59 percent of total votes with Davao Region registering the highest points of 81 percent.
Duterte also leads in the National Capital Region (NCR), Southern Luzon/Bicol, and the Visayas, based on January survey conducted by Rappler.
Even in regions where Duterte is not on the top spot, he still managed to come in close to the top. In North and Central Luzon for example where Vice President Jejomar Binay leads with 25 percent, Duterte comes close in second place with 23 percent, while Grace Poe got 20 percent.
So what will ultimately make Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte the next president? Of course, it would still be his platform of governance.
Duterte has so far focused on these five-point agenda.
1. Stamping out criminality particularly illegal drugs, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes; instilling discipline for everyone to adhere to the rule of law, and strengthening the country's justice system;
2. Raising living standards by generating jobs, increasing employment, doing away with contractualization, promoting livelihood, agricultural modernization, entrepreneurial, technological and industrial advancement with just taxation and equitable distribution of wealth while caring for the environment for sustainable development;
3. Intensifying and improving social services including education, health, housing, mass transportation with special attention to the elderly, women, children, youth, indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors; providing assistance to overseas Filipino workers and their families; adapting to climate change, reducing risk, preparing for natural disasters and adopting 911 nationwide;
4. Ending internal conflict and building peace for all Filipinos regardless of religion or political ideologies so we may all be united in confronting the threats of violent extremism, defending our territorial sovereignty, integrating well within the Asean region and helping promote international peace, understanding, friendship and cooperation.
5. Shifting to a Federal-Parliamentary System through a Constitutional Convention, holding of plebiscite and preparing the various States to effect power-sharing, resources-sharing, respect-for-all and development-for-all as key to reforming the whole bureaucracy to effect good governance, including increasing the salaries of government workers, fighting graft & corruption and unleashing the potentials of all regions, of all ethnic groups for well rounded social, economic and cultural growth.
And so far, at the rate Duterte's campaign is going, his chances is increasing by the day. As Laviña puts it, they "are happy of the results of this survey, which we think mirror what is really happening on the ground."
"We believe this is reflective of the pulse of the communities and the preference of the Filipino people. The high increase by Duterte, noticeably the only among the bets, is more reflective of what we are seeing as we visit communities, talk to volunteers, meet with support groups and sectors, consult with local leaders and supporters across the country," he said.
Laviña said that Duterte's sorties consistently draw unprecedented crowds attracted not by free food, free rides, or the presence of showbiz personalities and entertainers. He said it is a proof of the increasing approval of Mayor Duterte's bid for the presidency and the trust and confidence of the Filipinos on his agenda for real change.
"We are glad that people see the genuineness of Duterte's vision for the Filipinos and the Philippines," Laviña said.