COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2016 - 10:00am

The transition team of incoming president Rodrigo Roa Duterte started last week its head-hunting activities. The Davao City mayor has formed a six-man transition-cum search team to screen and vet the best and brightest people across the country.

Duterte’s transition team included three of those who joined him at The STAR roundtable last May 4. They were, namely, Peter Laviña, Christopher “Bong” Go, and Salvador “Bingbong” Medialdea. Laviña continues to serve as his official spokesperson, a job he performed since the presidential campaign started. Go, a lawyer, works as executive assistant of the mayor while Medialdea is one of Duterte’s legal advisers.

But not present, Duterte told us, was one of his very close advisers, Leoncio Evasco. He said Evasco is a former priest who joined the New People’s Army. Duterte prosecuted Evasco for sedition charges when he was still a Davao City fiscal during the martial law regime.

When former president Corazon Aquino granted amnesty to all rebels, he cited, Evasco was among those freed from detention. When Mrs. Aquino appointed him as vice mayor of Davao City, Duterte recalled, Evasco came to his office looking for a job and he took him in as his senior assistant.

When he first became mayor of Davao City, Duterte appointed Evasco as his chief of staff. At one time, he said, he even appointed Evasco as the head of City Engineers’ Office after he received reports of rampant corruption in that department. Eventually, Evasco pursued his own mayoral bid in his hometown Maribojoc in Bohol.

Evasco was elected for three consecutive terms and is currently on official leave as the outgoing mayor. This is why, Duterte said, he asked Evasco to help him as his national campaign manager when he finally decided to seek the presidency.

Barely 24 hours after the close of the polling precincts, GMA-7 was able to interview Duterte on a live feed from Davao City where he was waiting for the election results. Duterte casually dismissed the initial outcome of the presidential race when asked to comment about his early lead among the five presidential candidates in the partial, unofficial count. He adverted to “Ecclesiastes-3” to skirt the question.

“Ecclesiastes-3” is more popularly known for its title: “A Time for Everything.” A product of the San Beda College of Law in Mendiola, Duterte reflected on this biblical passage from the Old Testament.

San Beda is a private Roman Catholic college run by Benedictine monks in the Philippines. It is located in Mendiola, Manila just across Gate 6 of Malacañang Palace.

Incidentally, Duterte revealed during The STAR roundtable he is averse to moving his family into Malacañang. He recalled former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used to call him for emergency meetings and consultation talks. Arriving on a late night flight from Davao City, he dreaded walking the Palace halls which to him looked “spooky.”

This is why he has asked his staff to look for a place nearby around Mendiola to become the new presidential residence.

While Duterte carried his public persona as a foul-mouthed, tough, and gun-toting mayor during the presidential campaign, his soft side came out a day after the election. A tearful mayor unabashedly sobbed while paying respects at his late parents’ tombs. Pressed again by GMA-7 to comment about the certainty of his victory in the presidential race, Duterte waxed sentimental anew and cited “Ecclesiastes-3.”

Perhaps, it would give us an idea how Duterte will think and act as president if he believes and subscribes to Ecclesiastes-3, whose full text follows:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,?a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,? a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,? a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,? a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,? a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet, no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Whatever is has already been,and what will be has been before;and God will call the past to account.

And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment? both the righteous and the wicked,?for there will be a time for every activity,a time to judge every deed.”

With crimes, drugs and corruption as the priority targets of the incoming administration, Duterte’s adherence to Ecclesiastes-3 should serve as fair warning. When Duterte first started his presidential campaign, he already issued ultimatum to those engaged in these nefarious activities. Obviously, his 16 million voters agreed with him.

Citing “98% of the Philippine National Police (PNP is clean,” the incoming Commander-in-chief warned “scalawag” policemen to find an honorable way out of the service, either resign or retire now.

Whatever hanky-panky activities any government functionaries are engaged in, the public persona of Duterte as “The Punisher” while being mayor of Davao City will surface in Malacañang when he takes over.

As soon as he assumes the presidency on June 30, Mayor Duterte vowed to issue a text blast for the rest of government officials and workers.

He has a very brief message to all of them and spelled it out: “STOP.”

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