LIBERAL Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II said Monday that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, his opponent for the presidency, could slap him in the face if he could prove his claim that Roxas never graduated from the Wharton School of Economics.
“Let’s have a slapping match,” a visibly irked Roxas challenged Duterte in Filipino. “If my Wharton degree is not real, you can slap me in the face and I won’t dodge it. But if the degree is real, then I’ll slap you.”
Responding to the remarks, Duterte called Roxas an “idiot” who deserved to be slapped for his poor performance in the wake of Typhoon “Yolanda” two years ago.
“If he gets mad at me, I’ll slap him,” Duterte said in Filipino. “I’ll slap that idiot if I chance upon him on the campaign trail.”
Duterte also urged people not to vote for Roxas because he could not handle stress.
“Will you make him your president?” he said.
The word war between the two candidates erupted after Roxas said Davao’s reputation as a city that was safe from crime was “a myth.”
On his own radio talk show, Duterte said Roxas’ Wharton degree was a myth.
Roxas, a former investment banker in New York before entering politics, got his B.S. Economics degree from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.
An official university archives web page lists him among the school’s notable alumni “who have served in notable positions in foreign governments,” along with the late Senator Raul Roco, who completed his Masters of Laws in the same university in 1975.
“I’d like to ask [him], you claim that you have graduated from the Wharton School of Economics, that is a myth,” Duterte said on his radio show. “You did not graduate from the Wharton School of Economics, Mr. Roxas. Your name is not on the list of those who graduated from the four- or five-year degree courses. Ask Wharton. Show me [a photo] of you wearing a toga at Wharton, with your mother at the graduation,” he added.
Roxas, who oversaw the Philippine National Police as Interior secretary before he resigned to campaign for the presidency, slammed Duterte’s autocratic tendencies.
“What’s wrong with Mayor Digong Duterte [is] he’s used to one-man rule… If he doesn’t get what he wants, or someone tells him the truth, he’ll just slap someone.”
Then addressing Duterte directly, he said: “You know Digong, I value you as a friend, I respected our friendship. But it’s good that we’ve seen your [true] character.”
Roxas insisted that the statistics he cited about crime in Davao were real, and chided Duterte for trying to cover up the true situation in his city.
“The statistics I mentioned came from the PNP. In fact, Mayor Digong is the chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council. Maybe he forgot that—he’s the one in charge of the peace and order situation in Davao region. He’s the one who chooses the regional director and even the chief of police of Davao City.
“Those statistics came from the PNP and they are the ones who count the crimes from their own blotters. This is the truth—can’t he accept that?”
“Does this mean that if he becomes the President, if there’s something negative about him, he’ll just slap someone? Is that his kind of leadership? At least by now we already know who he really is.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Davao Police Regional Office refuted Roxas claims, saying that the crime index in the Davao region went down by 28.38 percent with 13,476 incidents recorded between January and August this year, compared with last year’s 18,936 for the same period.
Duterte ally former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol scored Roxas as being two-faced.
“Just a few months ago when he was courting Duterte to agree to be his vice presidential running mate, he was singing praises… to the peaceful paradise that is Davao City,” Piñol said.
“Today, as Duterte stands as the major obstacle to his dream of becoming president, Roxas says that Davao’s claim to being one of the safest cities in the world is nothing but a myth.”
Roxas’ allies in Congress questioned Duterte’s claim that he had killed more than 1,000 criminals, and challenged him to name names.
“I don’t know if he killed 1,700 or one or two, to be very frank, maybe I haven’t heard a single complaint from any relative,” said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. “Maybe it’s all image-making. I would like to dare our very brave mayor, name names.”
Another staunch Roxas supporter, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, dared Duterte to go to Caloocan and slap someone and see where that gets him. With Maricel V. Cruz
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