Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday slammed the critics of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, stressing that those who are maligning the mayor’s decision to run for president are afraid of losing to him in the 2016 presidential election.
“Takot na takot na sila. Parating na ang tunay na pagbabago,” Cayetano said.
The Senator was reacting to recent statements issued by the camp of presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and her running mate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, that Duterte was merely using Poe’s disqualification case as an excuse to run, since he had long decided to seek the presidency.
“Klaro sa amin ni Mayor Duterte na hindi pwedeng tumakbong presidente ang isang hindi natural born citizen. Tama po ba na ang isang nanumpa sa Amerika, babalik dito, gusto maging Pangulo? Hindi pwedeng palampasin ito. Lalong hindi ito drama,” Cayetano said.
“Kung gusto ninyo ng drama at pagkukunwari, nandyan ang Poe-Escudero. Kung gusto ninyo ng matapang na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon, nandito po ang Duterte-Cayetano. Basta kami, we will not cheapen the presidency,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano said Poe should answer directly the issues raised against her instead of hiding behind the back of Escudero.
“Hindi maaari na hindi marinig ang tinig niya lalo na kung gusto niyang maging presidente ng bansa. If this early she is already hiding behind a person, who at best is only muddling the issue lodged against her, what more if she becomes president?” Cayetano quipped.
Cayetano also defended Duterte against insinuations that the local executive may not be allowed to run as a substitute for Martin Diño, the standard-bearer of Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), of which Duterte is a member.
“To those nitpicking at the legal issues surrounding Mayor Duterte’s planned candidacy, set your sights elsewhere. Aside from Mayor Duterte being a natural-born Filipino with a long track record of public service, there are no outstanding legal issues in his bid. Under the law, substitution is allowed. The filing of the PDP-Laban is valid,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano acknowledged that the months leading to the elections could be tough for both him and Duterte, as influential individuals and groups who are afraid of the mayor’s inclusion in the race may try to launch smear campaigns against their ticket.
“We are certainly expecting it. May mga grupo na maraming pera gaya ng mga drug lords, smugglers at crime syndicates na balak magsama-sama para hadlangan ang tambalang Duterte-Cayetano sa gobyerno. Alam nilang liliit ang mundo nila. But I have faith that the people, who are sick and tired of crime and corruption, will support us all the way. Panahon na para sa matapang na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon,” he concluded./Office of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano