AFTER Liberal Party presidential bet Manuel Roxas II criticized him for promoting a “mythical” image as crime-buster, independent candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte lashed back at the LP bet and depicted him as an inexperienced manager who has to call on his wife to take hold of a situation.
“Mar has no experience in local governance. He cannot handle stress,” Duterte said during a speech in Taguig City late Friday after Roxas publicly dismissed as a “myth” Duterte’s claim that Davao became a safe city under his leadership.
The remark drew negative reactions from Davao residents, spurring the anti-crime group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption suggesting that the Davao City council declare Roxas “persona non grata.”
The 70-year-old Duterte, who had just been reelected mayor at the time, explained that he went to the Eastern Visayas when Typhoon “Yolanda” struck the region in November 2013 because he was born in Maasin City in 1945.
He said he witnessed how Roxas reacted to the situation in Tacloban City after Yolanda flattened the city and killed thousands of people.
“He was looking for firemen and engineers. So I called him aside and said ‘you are looking for officials who are also victims’,” Duterte said, noting that Roxas, who was then interior secretary, even fired the Eastern Visayas regional police chief for publicly saying fatalities could reach several thousands.
“He would even consult his wife Korina Sanchez sometimes while we were inspecting places in Leyte,” said Duterte, who lived in Eastern Visayas until he turned six years old and his family had to move to Mindanao.
The VACC, on the other hand, wanted Roxas declared “persona non grata” for the “below-the-belt” remark that the group described as a “very, very big lie.”
“Davao City should declare him as ‘persona non grata’ for spreading a very, very big lie,” said VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez, adding that the group’s Davao chapter has already initiated the process of sanctioning Roxas.
“Mar Roxas did not only shamed Davao to the world but the Philippines as a whole,” said netizen Angelo Lopez of Roxas’ remark.
He also hit Roxas for his “uncalled for” attack on presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay as an “expert in graft and corruption.”
“That is also below the belt,” Jimenez said. “Why, what does he think of himself? Never mind, he’s at last place in the surveys anyway.”
Roxas made the controversial remark at a forum in the Ateneo de Manila University Friday when he claimed Davao actually has the fourth highest number of crimes in the country, contrary to the crime-busting image that Duterte wanted to project to voters.
But the Davao City police issued its own rejoinder on social media on Friday and charged that the Roxas camp was glossing over the facts about criminality in the city.
“They are not showing the true facts on this issue. Please share,” the Davao City police said on their Facebook page.
Citing statistics from the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Roxas said Davao City logged a crime volume of 18,119 in 2014.
The Davao City police clarified that the 2014 crime volume of 18,119 incidents that Roxas mention included “police-initiated operations that yielded positive results especially on anti-drugs and other special laws.”
DCPO said only 6,548 of the 18,119 incidents, or about 36 percent, were index crimes, or crimes against persons and properties, and the remaining 11,571 (64 percent) were non-index crimes.
Duterte also slammed Roxas for calling him a human rights violator and retorted that the former senator never mentioned that claim when he sought the Davao City mayor’s support in previous elections.
“[But] now that I am running against him, I am a bad boy for him,” Duterte said.
“The same is true with [Senator Grace] Poe. I was not a human rights violator when she asked me to be her vice president. Now, she is telling everyone that I am a human rights violator,” he said, referring to Poe’s claim that she never asked Duterte to be her running mate.
“She is lying,” Duterte insisted, adding that Poe even invited him to her Corinthian Garden home to discuss the matter.