Duterte and ex-wife: The ties that bind

FRIENDS AFTER MARRIAGE. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's children says he takes care of his ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, who is diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. Photo by Paolo Duterte

FRIENDS AFTER MARRIAGE. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's children says he takes care of his ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, who is diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.

Photo by Paolo Duterte

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Contrary to public belief, the line "for better and for worse" still binds Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Much has been said about their broken relationship, but not many outside the family know they remain very good friends. The two have 3 children - Vice Mayor Paolo, Sara, and Sebastian. (READ: ‘Philandering’ Rodrigo Duterte cause of marriage annulment)

Last August, Duterte had to cancel his schedules in Manila, as he had to rush home for the operation of Zimmerman, who has Stage 3 cancer. As people wondered why the pre-scheduled events were cancelled, Duterte only said he had to attend to a "personal errand."

Duterte arrived midnight in Davao City and rushed to Zimmerman's side. Upon arrival, he made sure his former wife was ready for the operation.

On Thursday, November 26, after the mayor and his daughter Sara went to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to withdraw his mayoralty bid, the two went to the hospital to visit Zimmerman.

"Mama was in bed when Papa and Inday (Sara) arrived and showed us their COC (Certificates of Candidacy)," the vice mayor said, referring to the COCs of Duterte for president and Sara for mayor.

On Saturday, November 28, after finishing his public engagements in the province at midnight, Duterte still took time to visit his ex-wife in the hospital. His executive assistant Christopher Lawrence Go told Rappler, "the mayor will visit Ma'am Beth before going for the taping" of his show Gikan Sa Masa, Para sa Masa.

HAPPIER TIMES. Elizabeth and Rody in a photo taken Christmas 2004. Photo courtesy Duterte family

HAPPIER TIMES. Elizabeth and Rody in a photo taken Christmas 2004.

Photo courtesy Duterte family

Mending ties

Since 1998, political rivals of Duterte have thrown allegations against the popular mayor. Among the issues hurled at him is his failed marriage with Zimmerman, who, in the face of controversy, remained silent.

In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition in Pasig to nullify their marraige. Court records show that it was Zimmerman who was on the receiving end of “emotional abuse” from Rodrigo whom she described as a “womanizer” who had frequent “outbursts of temper.”

Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage.

But despite a bitter past, Zimmerman continued to support the father of her children.

"Even (if) Mama and Papa have separated, Papa is with us every Christmas. He arrives before the Noche Buena and during New Year, he arrives before the Media Noche," the vice mayor told Rappler.

"Since the annulment, we remain friends and I never issued any statement about us about what we went through. Our separation has even worked best for both of us, meaning me and Duts (referring to the mayor), more time to serve the Davao people and I remain objectively looking at his work being a public servant," Zimmerman told Rappler.

Asked about her supposed statement circulating on social media, she denied saying anything negative about her ex-husband.

"I don't know about it, let them be, hayaan lang sila if that what makes them happy, I am used to it but I know I never said anything about us," she said.

The mayor is a known ladies' man and has been vocal about his girlfriends. But his close friends, quoting Duterte, said, "If I am to marry again, I will marry the mother of my children."

And now that Duterte is off to a bigger battle in 2016, Zimmerman has only good things to say to her former husband. "He has my prayers." – Rappler.com