Pantukan is one of the oldest towns in Davao – it became an independent municipality long before Davao was divided
into several provinces. The town likewise is the seat of one of the early settlers of the province. While there is
no official record on the meaning of Pantukan, there is an explanation as to its origin
The first inhabitants of Pantukan were the Mansacas and Muslims who make up the Kalagan Tribe. The name Pantukan was derived
from the name of powerful Datus known as Pantu and Kan, who ruled the place during that period. Datu Pantu was the Chieftain
of Barrio Bongbong situated on the southeastern portion of the municipality, while Datu Kan ruled Magnaga at the northern tip of
the town. Both Datus struggled for power over the other, and their continuous efforts to win led to their downfall.
The abundance of natural resources attracted migrants to settle in Pantukan. Majority of these migrants originated from the Visayas.
The influx of people brought with them an increase in trading, economic activities and cultural exchange between the original settlers and the migrants.\
The Municipality of Pantukan was created on the 13th of November 1936 through Executive Order No. 64 issued by then Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. During its creation, the town had a land area of 180,000 hectares.
Since then, two of its barangays – Lupon and Mabini – were elevated to become independent municipalities.
Lupon, south of the original Pantukan, became part of Davao Oriental when the province of Davao was subdivided in 1967.
On the other hand, Mabini, north of the original Pantukan, was further subdivided into the current municipalities of Mabini,
Maco and Maragusan
The first appointed political leader of Pantukan was Municipal President Lam Laureano, a Muslim leader highly respected by the natives.
When Municipal President Lam died, Bancas Mansaca, who belonged to a prominent family of the Mansaca Tribe,
succeeded him. Also among the well-known and respected leaders of the community during those times were Pantaleon Terrado,
Sixto Rosales, Felixberto Castro and Teodoro Fuentes.
In 1938, the first election was held in Pantukan and Mr. Juan R Caballero, Sr.
became the first elected Mayor. He held on to his leadership role until World War II broke out. When the
Japanese army defeated the resistance forces, Mr. Raymundo Legal was appointed as the new Municipal Mayor.
Afterwards, the resistance group consolidated their forces and successfully crushed the Japanese Army. Subsequently,
President Manuel Roxas appointed Mr. Paulo Ramirez as Municipal Mayor. When normalcy was fully restored in 1946, Mr.
Juan Caballero, Sr. was re-elected as Municipal Mayor. He, however, died before his term of office expired.
Mr. Graciano V. Arafol, then a Deputy Governor, was elected as Mayor Caballero’s successor in 1951. Mayor Arafol served
two consecutive terms from 1951 to 1959. Mr. Diosdado M. Basañez of the Liberal party served as Mayor for one term after
Mayor Arafol. In 1963, Celso V, Sarenas Sr. won by majority vote and went on to become the first official to occupy the
mayoralty seat for three consecutive terms.
The 1986 EDSA revolution changed the political climate in Pantukan. Mr. Juan B. Caballero, Jr. was appointed OIC Mayor,
replacing incumbent Mayor Celso V. Sarenas, Sr. In the 1988 regular elections; Dr. Jovito D. Derla won the election
by majority votes and occupied the mayoralty seat until 1992. During the May 1992 joint national and local election,
Mr. Juan R. Caballero Jr. won and become mayor for only one term. In 1995, Dr. Jovito D. Derla was again elected Mayor of Pantukan
– he served for three consecutive terms until 2004. Juan Cipriano Celso V. Sarenas won the election in 2004 and served as Mayor for three consecutive terms. The 2013 elections saw a new chief executive in the person of Mayor Roberto M. Yugo