May 18, 2016

    Davao businesses boom with all things Duterte

    DAVAO, Philippines

    BE IT DU30 car plates or The Punisher T-shirts, Filipinos have been snapping up any merchandise they can featuring President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

    Happy vendors along one highway in Davao, where he is a hero after his tough measures as mayor turned around a town once fraught with drugs and gangs, have been refilling their stalls with stickers, mugs and all things Duterte.

    "To Mr Duterte: Thank you very, very much. Because of you, our business is booming and it has been a big help to our family," said Lovella Quino, a shop vendor who was selling Duterte mugs, stickers and plates.

    Car licence plates bearing Mr Duterte's online abbreviation, DU30, priced at 150 pesos (S$4.40), have been the most in demand item since the firebrand mayor won the presidency last week. "We went here early because we're afraid it will all be sold out," Saudi Lampuni, a tourist looking for car plates, told Reuters.

    While Mr Duterte's stand against crime has dominated headlines, investors are optimistic he will continue the Philippines' pro-business economic policies.

    A printing shop in Davao that has been churning out The Punisher shirts said it was already seeing the benefits of a Duterte presidency on its balance sheet.

    Kier Carbonell, owner of Paintline Shirt Printing Services, said there had been many inquiries about its products, including a range called Victory, showing Mr Duterte as president.

    The shirts, similar to a biker gang design to fit the mayor's tough-guy image, are priced between 200 and 400 pesos with dealers keen to export the brand outside of Davao.

    The shop owners said they were expecting demand to blossom even further when Mr Duterte is sworn into office on June 30.