in the name of their fathers

A text message I received one Sunday morning washed out the alcohol that entered my body the night before. I wasn't expecting lawyer Karlo Nograles to like what I wrote but that he would react the way he did was another thing.

The text message sent he sent to a common friend read: " Have you read the inquirer? I thought this jeffrey guy was a responsible journalist. if i had known that he had already prejudged my family, i would have never let him into my house. He directly misquoted me and even added words just to suit his biased report. That's the last time. Never again."

Many questions were dangled by the reaction of the son of the Speaker of the House. Which part of the story was manufactured? Which quotes were misquotes? These he failed to answer.

I must concede about my being bias. My bias is something that I must not compromise. My bias is my loyalty. And my loyalty goes to my stories. And these stories are the stories of my sources. Meaning my loyalty goes to the story of Karlo Nograles or Sara Duterte and all other people who trust in me their stories.

Sure I am guilty. Be one of the judges...

Inquirer Mindanao
Defending the name of their fathers

By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Inquirer Mindanao
First Posted 21:39:00 06/20/2009

Filed Under: Family, Politics

DAVAO CITY—He is his father’s son; she, her father’s daughter. Their families are mortal political enemies, and in the 2010 elections, they will be at the forefront of their war.

Like his father, Speaker Prospero Nograles, lawyer Karlo “Kaka” Nograles defends the billboards and posters with his smiling face and name—in rich, bold letters—that are placed conspicuously in areas where major infrastructure projects have been completed or are going on in Davao City.

While critics say these announcements speak of the Nograleses’ narcissism, or are part of a grand stunt to claim credit for government funded-projects, Karlo says these do not violate laws.

He describes these as nothing but “information billboards”—simply to remind people of the service that has been delivered to them and what is to be expected from the Nograleses’ “politics of performance.”

Karlo speaks of how his father’s performance has changed people’s lives in the first district, the biggest in the city’s three congressional districts.

That is normal because he is his father’s chief of staff. It is expected because he is being groomed to become his father’s successor.

Blunt on issues

Just like her mayor-father, Rodrigo Duterte, Vice Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte is known to be blunt about issues close to her heart.

While presiding over a regular city council session, she was overheard as saying, “Oh my God … oh, my God …”—her eyes wide—as the majority of the councilors voted for a controversial housing project in an environmentally critical area.

Later, she would confirm cases of corruption involving some councilors and admit that she has difficulty in fighting corruption in the council.

But she had to do it, she said, as she could not stomach public officials stealing public money. “No public money got into the pockets of the Dutertes … the Dutertes are not corrupt and I can declare that publicly, without me being mortified of myself for saying it,” she once said.

Reacting to rumors that her plan to replace her father as mayor will be challenged by Speaker Nograles, Sara said: “Who’s afraid of them? … who’s afraid of the Nograleses?”

It is the kind of tough talk that her father is known for. The kind that drives “criminals” out of the city, sending shivers down their spines.

Next breed of politicos

Sara and Karlo are the next breed of politicians who are seen to stir the political landscape of Davao City in the coming elections. The long battle of their families, as political arch-rivals, is anticipated to sizzle more with them at the helm.

Sara, 29, a lawyer, is seen to take over the position of her father. She considers herself the product of the old and the new Duterte, a family name kept protected by a long history of public service that “always kept the people first.”

“Our identity as political leaders is recognizable as it is distinct. It is a kind of service that emanates from the heart. Ours is not mechanical. We see through people and we respond to their needs appropriately,” she said.

Davaoeños know that Sara, who wears a couple of tattoos and a short chic hair, had contradicted her father over many issues in the past.

It was a feud that she did not deny but refused to elaborate on, except to say, “I don’t want to be told what to do. If I am told not to do this, I would end up doing it.”

Stereotype brand

Karlo, on the other hand, leaves an image of the obedient son, if not the perfect copy, of the father. He, too, has an image of a stereotype politician.

“I can offer many ways to serve the people. But my father’s brand will be my brand,” he said.

“We give importance to the continuity of things—to work on what has already started, done or achieved … my advantage over my father is that all I have to do is to continue what he has done and accomplished.”

For Sara, compromise is as tricky as the full implementation of the law.

She illustrates this by using as an example the sidewalk vendors that business establishments have been complaining against for so long.

“We have been receiving complaints about sidewalk vendors who occupy the space supposedly for the people and these establishments,” she said.

“But we can’t just disallow these sidewalk vendors and dislocate them and become the reason for their poverty. So we allow them (to occupy the sidewalks) provided that they agree to behave well, maintain the cleanliness of the surroundings, and other simple things.”