Manila: Tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte, 70, is a long-time local Philippine politician and Mayor of Davao City, the country’s largest city in terms of land area.

Duterte is one of the possible leaders to replace President Benigno Aquino III, whose term ends in June 2016.

The 1987 Constitution limits Philippine presidents to only a single, six-year term.

Duterte, a lawyer and former prosecutor, is also known as “Duterte Harry”. He had recently topped presidential polls, a reflection of Filipinos’ frustration with perceived rise in criminality and abuse of power by those in government.

Duterte had persistently and consistently denied he had any plans to run for president.

But on December 8, he threw his hat into the presidential ring following his disagreement with the election authorities’ decision to allow Senator Grace Poe to run for president, despite questions about the latter’s citizenship and residency.



The mayor, also known by his nickname "Digong", is credited for leading the clean-up of Davao City from criminality and filth, thus making it one of the cleanest cities in the Philippines. He is also known for his close ties to both the armed left and the Moro rebels.

His supporter depict him as a strict law enforcer, who publicly whips offenders on the spot and rides around the town in his cruiser bike.

Recently, Duterte assailed corruption in the Aquino government, especially for "desecrating" the Balikbayan boxes sent by the hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipino workers to loved ones back home.

His detractors, among them human rights advocates, however, despise Duterte for alleged extra-judicial killings.

Digong is accused of overseeing or giving tacit approval for the summary execution of up to 800 suspected criminals -- mostly alleged drug dealers or rapists. But his critics also said some of the suspects were merely smoking pot.

His dreaded “Davao Death Squad” members are also known for their reign of terror, first by sending flowers to suspected criminals as a warning for them to leave Davao, or get executed.

Among Duterte's critics are three journalists who had been killed in Davao City in suspected and still-unsolved assassinations.

Duterte had been irked by a July 2002 Time Magazine article, which depicted him as a bike-riding, pistol-packing “punisher”.

"I'm not the punisher of anybody. It's only God and in this planet, it's the courts," Duterte was quoted by the daily Sunstar.

The report also mentioned Duterte's alleged links with the so-called vigilante group “'Davao Death Squad”.

Duterte had also been assailed for cussing the Pope (whom he accused of causing massive traffic congestion in Manila).

Surveys placed Duterte among the top front runners for the presidency along with Mar Roxas of the ruling Liberal Party, Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Duterte had been credited for turning Davao City, a hotbed of communist insurgency during the mid-1980s, into a thriving urban centre in Mindanao and one of the most progressive cities in Southeast Asia.

A former prosecutor, his unconventional high-handed leadership style had struck fear in the hearts of miscreants and other crooks in Davao City and had brought discipline in the Philippines’ biggest city.

Although he had been accused of having a hand in the numerous extra-judicial killings in the city, detractors have yet to come up with solid evidence against him.