Duterte a no-show as he is proclaimed Philippine president

Mr Duterte opted to stay in his stronghold in Davao city instead of attending the proclamation held in the capital, Manila.
Mr Duterte opted to stay in his stronghold in Davao city instead of attending the proclamation held in the capital, Manila.

Mr Rodrigo Duterte was proclaimed yesterday as the Philippines' 16th president, marking the official start of a reign that the 71-year-old anti-crime maverick had promised would be "bloody" and unorthodox.

Congress approved an official tally that showed Mr Duterte winning by over 6.6 million votes.

Meanwhile, 52-year-old lawyer and social activist Leni Robredo, an ally of outgoing President Benigno Aquino, 56, was proclaimed vice-president. She eked out a narrow win over former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, 58.

The president and vice-president are elected separately in the Philippines. Mr Duterte and Ms Robredo will be sworn into office on June 30.

Breaking with tradition, Mr Duterte was a no-show at his proclamation held in the capital, Manila. He opted instead to stay in Davao city, his stronghold 970km south of Manila, and about two hours away by flight.

His spokesman Salvador Panelo explained: "He'd rather work in Davao. He is busy trying to finish the composition of his Cabinet."

Mr Duterte's absence did not come as a surprise, considering his reputation as a rule-breaker.

On Sunday, he said he would start work at 1pm and end his day at midnight.

He already holds news briefings that start just before midnight and last till the early hours of the morning.

"I don't care about your 8am to 5pm schedule," he told reporters.

He also plans to take a commercial flight every day, so he can shuttle from Davao to Manila till he can adjust to living in the capital.

"My home (in Davao) is my comfort zone. It's important that I can sleep and take a shower comfortably," he said.

Mr Duterte won in the May 9 elections with the image of a macho, no-nonsense Everyman ready to shake up a system that he said benefits only the oligarchy and is rotting with elitist fakery.

Unlike Mr Duterte, Ms Robredo came to her proclamation with her three daughters and hundreds of supporters. She rose to political prominence following the death in 2012 of her husband, a long-serving mayor and respected Cabinet minister, in a plane crash.

She told reporters she is confident she will have "a good working relationship" with Mr Duterte.

Mr Julio Teehankee, a dean at De La Salle University, sees a "perfect mix" in Mr Duterte and Ms Robredo.

"We are seeing two styles. From a regime narrative, we are seeing the disciplinarian father and the nurturing mother," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte a no-show as he is proclaimed Philippine president'. Print Edition | Subscribe