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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Jan 19, 2022

How Inday Sara Duterte swept Filipinos off their feet

There is probably no Filipino adult who does not know vice presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Sara Zimmerman Duterte, or Inday Sara to many. She has already made a name for herself long before her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, became the country’s chief executive. In fact, she has swept Filipinos off their feet, as evidenced by the latest Pulse Asia survey released in December 2021, showing 45 percent of respondents choosing her as their vice presidential bet for the 2022 elections.

Mayor Sara’s brand of leadership — firm but compassionate and inclusive—is what endeared her to the people of Davao City, as well as to the rest of the country.

While she was vice mayor of the city in 2007, her first stint in politics, she launched her landmark project, "Inday Para saBarangay," which aims to ensure that the city government’s services reach all its barangays, including the far-flung communities — a program that she continued as city mayor.

She has been implementing a lot of projects covering all sectors of society. Some of these even reflect the advocacies that are closest to her heart — peace, women and children, and inclusivity.

Her Peace 911 is a comprehensive peace-building and development initiative that brought stability to the once conflict-affected area of Paquibato District in Davao City; while her Pagbabago Campaign is a two-pronged approach to solving interlocking problems related to poverty, children’s education, and responsible parenthood. Through the pagbabago campaign, Mayor Sara distributes to community children school bags that contain reading materials on the importance of education and responsible parenting. It’s her simple way of using her voice and influence to, hopefully, steer families into the right path out of poverty.

INDAY SARA FAMILY — Sara Duterte (right) poses with her father Rodrigo Duterte, her mother Elizabeth Zimmerman Duterte, and brothers — Paolo and Sebastian.

Meanwhile, to help stop child abuse, Mayor Sara launched the Kean Gabriel Hotline, which allows anonymous reporting of child neglect and abuse so that authorities can rescue children in distress.

She also created the Magnegosyo Ta ‘Day (MTD), a livelihood support project that encourages entrepreneurship in women. Its success led to the creation of the Rainbow Magnegosyo Ta ‘Day, which supports entrepreneurship in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) community.

Under her leadership, Davao City emerged as a premier city not only in Mindanao but also in the whole country. Her feats are not only for Davao City, but for the whole of Region XI.

With Mayor Sara at the helm, Davao City reaped 36 awards within the short period of 2011-2013. These include recognitions for good governance, business, tourism, health, environment, fiscal management, transparency, among others.

Meanwhile, on the regional level, then President Benigno Aquino Jr. appointed her as chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region XI, and she was also selected as the NEDA Board-Regional Development Committee-Mindanao Area Committee (NB- RDCom-MAC) chairperson. During her first full year as RDC chairperson, Davao Region’s Gross Regional Domestic Products expanded from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 7.1 percent in 2012.

After her first term as mayor, she went on a three-year political hiatus; then was reelected mayor in 2016, and again in 2019. Mayor Sara continued to demonstrate transformational leadership, relentlessly pursuing peace and progress in her administration.

Between 2017 and 2021, Davao City received 117 awards, citations, and recognition, including one of the 2021 Top 10 Richest Cities of the Philippines by the Commission on Audit (COA), and the 4th Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in 2021 by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

In 2021, amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis, Mayor Sarawas selected as the Philippines’ Top Performing Mayor (for cities outside of Metro Manila), with a rating of 93 percent, by an independent and non-commissioned survey of the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMDinc).

Communities in different parts of the country have also shown their appreciation for Mayor Sara and her advocacies. She is an adopted member of Davao City’s Ata tribe who named her Biyo Simolun.

She was made an adopted daughter of the Province of Abra's Tinguian tribe, giving her the name Dulimaman, which was inspired by the courageous heroine in the tribe’s epic Wadagan ken Dulimaman. She is also an adopted daughter of the Province of Camarines Sur and the City of Tangub.

Mayor Sara has proven how much she values the people’s mandate. Looking at the feats that Davao City has achieved through the years, Mayor Sara has evidently demonstrated strong leadership and has given her utmost commitment to providing a whole-of-government approach to best serve the people.

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