Rodrigo Duterte (Rodrigo Roa Duterte) was born on March 28, 1945 in Maasin, Southern Leyte to Vicente Duterte and Soledad Roa who were both civil servants. His mother was a public school teacher while his father was a government worker. Duterte traces his roots to the Visayas. He spent his early years in Danao, Cebu, the hometown of his father. But his lineage has also direct ties from Mindanao as his mother hails from Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte while his paternal grandmother was a Maranao.
In 1949, when Duterte was four years old, his family resettled in the then-undivided Davao where his father Vicente later entered the political arena and was elected governor of the province and served from 1959 to 1965.
Duterte graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University and obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He passed the bar exam that same year. He served as special counsel and later on became a city prosecutor at the City Prosecutor’s Office in Davao City from 1977 until 1986, when he was appointed as OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City.
He ran and successfully won the mayoralty post in 1988. Since then, Duterte has not lost an election. He is among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines and has been Mayor of Davao City for seven terms, totaling more than 22 years. He also served as vice-mayor and as congressman of the city’s first congressional district.
On May 9, 2016, Duterte won a landslide victory as the 16th President of the Philippines, with 16.6 million votes, the highest number of votes won by any Philippine president before him, with a margin if 6.6 million votes from the second placer. He was officially proclaimed by a joint session of the Philippine Congress on May 30, 2016. He is the first President from Mindanao, and the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President.
Rodrigo Roa Duterte Full Biography and Profile
Rodrigo Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Philippines. The son of a regional governor, he graduated from law school in 1972 and joined the City Prosecution Office of Davao City. Duterte became Davao City mayor in 1988, and was reelected six times after forging a reputation for being tough on crime. He earned a decisive victory in his country’s 2016 presidential election, but soon drew criticism for his support of extrajudicial killings and threats to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S.
Rodrigo Roa Duterte Early Years
Rodrigo Roa Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Philippines. His father, Vicente, served as a local mayor and governor, and his mother, Soledad, was a teacher and a community activist.
Prone to misbehavior, Duterte was twice expelled from elementary school. He managed to channel his temper somewhat by the time he attended Lyceum of the Philippines University, where he was influenced by Communist Party of the Philippines founder José María Sison. Duterte went on to study law at San Beda College, earning his degree in 1972 despite claims that he shot a classmate.
Davao City Mayor
Duterte’s rise from the legal ranks to politician began when he was named special counsel at the City Prosecution Office of Davao City in 1977. He became assistant city prosecutor two years later, and in 1986 he was elected vice mayor of Davao City.
That same year, President Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in the “People Power Revolution,” fueling an increase in crime that was particularly rampant in Davao City. Elected mayor in 1988, Duterte sought to crack down on criminal activity by imposing a strict curfew and drinking laws. Additionally, he permitted the actions of a vigilante “death squad” — often referred to as the “Davao Death Squad” and “Duterte Death Squad” — that reportedly killed more than 1,000 suspected drug dealers and gang members over a 20-year span.
Nicknamed the “Punisher” for his controversial methods, Duterte nevertheless was successful in reducing crime. Furthermore, he was credited with helping to make Davao City cleaner by enforcing a smoking ban, and for his LGBT-friendly measures. His popularity was such that he served seven terms as mayor, sidestepping term limits with stints as a congressman and vice mayor, and drew huge ratings with a weekly television program.
After initially dismissing the idea he would run for president, Duterte reversed course and threw his hat into the race in late 2015. Among other promises, he said he would establish a new federal parliamentary government and revive the country’s steel industry.
However, the substance of his campaign was quickly overshadowed by a series of outrageous statements. He insisted he would massacre criminals and refused to apologize for a joke about the rape of an Australian missionary. His brashness invited comparisons to Donald Trump, who was simultaneously running his own unfiltered campaign for president in the United States.
The strategy proved effective, as Duterte nearly doubled the votes compiled by his two closest opponents. In May 2016, he was officially named the 16th president of the Philippines, and the first from its southern island of Mindanao.
After taking office, Duterte signed an executive order to provide full disclosure of government records and transactions and announced plans to decongest airports. Vigilante attacks continued under his watch, and thousands of criminals reportedly surrendered to authorities. Viewed as a tough, effective leader, Duterte scored a 91 percent approval rating in late July.
However, despite being subjected to greater international scrutiny in his new role, Duterte refused to scale back his incendiary rhetoric. Among his headline-making comments, he lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama over mention of the extrajudicial killings, and compared himself to Hitler for his desire to exterminate drug addicts.
Duterte also threatened to shake up longtime alliances with his words. Upon a state visit to China in October, he announced that he was “separating” with the U.S. and aligning himself with the “ideological flow” of his host country. Although he later softened those remarks, he left many wondering whether he would attempt to tip the balance of power in the Pacific region.
Duterte grew more receptive to rekindling ties with the U.S. following the 2016 election of President Trump, who invited his Filipino counterpart to the White House in April 2017. In November, Duterte met with Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting in Manila. According to Duterte’s spokesman, the two leaders discussed the ongoing problems with rampant drug use in the Philippines, but did not broach the subject of human-rights violations. The U.S. president chose to focus on areas of common ground, noting, “We’ve had a great relationship.”
Rodrigo Roa Duterte Family
Duterte was married to former flight attendant Elizabeth Zimmerman from 1973 until an annulment was granted in 2000. Two of their three children, Paolo and Sara, followed their father into politics. Additionally, Duterte has a daughter with his common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña.
- Rodrigo Roa Duterte Biography and Profile (Biography / Rodrigo Roa Duterte)