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Duterte to work with GMA but only as adviser

Tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he would rather take up the role of adviser on fighting crime rather than accept President Arroyo’s offer to lead a police task force that would target kidnap gangs and the illegal drug trade.

Mrs. Arroyo appointed him last week to head the new body that was supposed to replace the National Anti-Crime Commission and the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force, which she both abolished.

However, Duterte said he preferred to be an adviser because he does not want to neglect his responsibility of running Davao City.

"I only want an adviser’s role. I do not want to implement. I will help them form the structure and I will just give them legal advise," Duterte said in an interview. "I don’t want to do anything other than that because I do not want to jeopardize my primary task as city mayor."

Duterte is largely credited for bringing back law and order to Davao, which was once known as the crime capital of the Philippines in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Packing a semi-automatic pistol, he would rumble through town on a Harley Davidson motorcycle accompanied by motorcyle-riding security men.

Duterte’s tough talk against crime and his unorthodox way of enforcing the law recently landed him on the pages of Time magazine.

Saying he had been "overrated," Duterte said he is apprehensive that he might not live to expectations that his brand of law enforcement might work in the rest of the country.

"I am only good in my city or in the region but not in the entire country. I’m afraid I’d fail because I am not really cut out for it," he said.

He said the Philippine National Police can very well solve the Philippines’ crime problem – especially kidnappings-for-ransom, which seems to have become a cottage industry in the country – as long as the police force has the will to hit hard on crime.

Mrs. Arroyo had said she would leave it to Duterte to define his role and responsibilities.

Mrs. Arroyo did not hide her admiration for Duterte last Monday during a joint meeting of the Southern Mindanao Regional Development Council and the Regional Peace and Order Council in Tagum City, Davao del Norte by brandishing the July 1 copy of Time.

If ever Duterte accepts the post, it will be the first time that he’ll accept an appointment.

He had turned down offers of a Cabinet post in the past from Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, preferring to run Davao as mayor.

Earlier, Duterte said he was "honored by the appointment" but he wanted to "talk first with the President exactly what are the functions of my heading that task force."

"I have to be clear with that first because I also do not want to jeopardize my job as mayor for which I was elected by people," he said.

Mrs. Arroyo announced last Thursday that a "special task force" headed by Duterte would provide the Philippine National Police’s new chief, Director General Hermogenes Ebdane, "expert help" in fighting crime, particularly illegal drugs and kidnappings-for-ransom.

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