MANILA, Philippines – Presidential bet Grace Poe on Tuesday, April 12, took an indirect swipe at her closest rival, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, right in his own turf.
In a speech in Agusan del Norte, Poe told Mindanao voters there should be no arbitrary killings in addressing criminality, as violence is not the solution.
While Poe did not name anyone, her criticisms echoed those thrown against Duterte, who earlier vowed to end crimes nationwide in just 3 to 6 months, through what he only described as a “bloody” campaign. Local and international groups have accused Duterte human rights violations through the Davao Death Squad, vigilantes that target suspected criminals.
“Mga kababayan, hindi puwedeng basta gantihan na lamang. Hindi puwedeng basta napagsuspetsahan ay ililigpit na lamang. Hindi puwedeng karahasan ang sagot sa lahat, katarungan ang mas hinahanap natin,” Poe said.
(Fellowmen, it should not be about revenge. Just because you are accused of something, you should be killed immediately. Violence is not the answer to everything. Justice is what we are looking for.)
She then urged the mayor’s provincemates not to allow anyone to offend the dignity of Filipinos.
“Huwag po nating payagan na bastusin ang dignidad ng Pilipino sapagkat ang Pilipino ay natural na magalang, dahil ang Pilipino ay natural na nananalig sa Diyos, dahil ang Pilipino ay natural na nagmamahal sa kapwa,” she said.
(Let us not allow anyone to trample on the dignity of Filipinos because Filipinos are naturally respectful, Filipinos naturally have strong faith in God, Filipinos are naturally loving to others.)
Poe's tirade against Duterte was a tamer version of the recent attacks made by Vice President Jejomar Binay against the Davao mayor, though both had the same message: Duterte will kill crime suspects without due process.
In a quick attempt to counter it, Poe has since added the issue of peace and order – the core agenda of Duterte’s platform – in her campaign speeches.
FPJ vs Duterte
In the recent ABS-CBN survey, Duterte strengthened his grip on Mindanao voters, with a rating of 55% – a 12-percentage point surge.
Poe, for her part, only got 15% – a 6-percentage point decline from the previous weeks.
Despite this, Poe still took the chance and sought the support of Mindanao voters, as she did the rounds in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.
“Pero higit sa lahat, ang nais kong sabihin sa inyo ay ito: alam ko na meron akong katunggali dito sa Mindanao. Pero mga kababayan, hindi ka kailangan ipinanganak sa Mindanao at hindi ka kailangan nakatira sa Mindanao para mahalin ang ating mga kababayan na taga-Mindanao,” she said.
(But most of all, this is what I want to tell you: I know I have a rival here in Mindanao. But fellowmen, you do not have to be born in Mindanao, you do not have to live in Mindanao, for you to love the people here in Mindanao.)
While Duterte is king in Mindanao based on surveys, Poe is still banking on the memory of her father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr, to give her a good fight.
FPJ and his films are well-loved in the island group and, as in past sorties, Poe made sure she reminded people of that.
“Ako po ay lumaki na pinalaki ni FPJ. Siya po, habang ako’y lumalaki, ay nagbigay sa akin ng inspirasyon. At kung ‘yung ibang bata ay binabasahan ng istorya bago matulog, ang aking ama ay nagkukuwento ng mga pelikulang gagawin niya. Kaya bata pa lang ako, naririnig ko na ang kuwento ng mga pelikula ni FPJ, katulad ng Muslim Magnum 357, Kahit Butas ng Karayom, Papasukin Ko, Zamboanga na ginawa ng kanyang ama, at Perlas ng Silangan na ginawa ng aking mga magulang,” she said.
(I was raised by FPJ. While I was growing up, he served as my inspiration. While other kids were read stories before they sleep, my father would tell me stories about his next films. That's why even when I was young, I already know about the plots of his movies, like Muslim Magnum 357, Kahit Butas ng Karayom, Papasukin Ko, Zamboanga, and Perlas ng Silangan which starred both my parents.) – Rappler.com