No drama in Gensan for Duterte, Marcos, Cayetano
Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte traipsed political hot waters in a sortie in General Santos City, where his campaign machinery was first put to test.
He came out clean in what could be a potentially embarrassing situation – the same awkward position his friend and host Rogelio "Bicbic" Garcia tried very hard to avoid and was spared when Senator Peter Alan Cayetano opted to exercise better judgment.
Otherwise a lot of eyebrows would have been raised if Duterte was seen seated between Cayetano and fellow Senator Ferdinand Marcos in the same affair – the two being rivals for the vice presidency and who both earlier sought to be the mayor’s running mate.
In the end, Duterte showed his statesmanly side when he spoke on the same night at different locations and after both vice presidential bets have taken different rostrums, without even mentioning about the two rivals being in the same place on the same day.
Nevertheless he delivered the same messages, albeit in different intensity and eloquence.
Duterte again was at his usual best swinging between humor, sarcasm and seriousness – threatening and cajoling – emphatic and firm but coy. He transitioned in between events with ease and without boring or offending the crowd: people in slippers and sandals in one, a crowd in barongs and suits and gowns in the other.
He spoke before a hastily organized crowd of 2,000 approving supporters at the Oval Plaza Gym like he was just having a conversation. He then segued into a formal dinner of the Junior Chambers International (JCI or Jaycees) at Phela Grande Hotel – some 4 kilometers away – like he was the esteemed guest of honor.
In between, he changed sweat-soaked polo shirts and later joked about the barong as the preferred garb for dead people in front of a predominantly barong-clad Jaycees crowd.
Despite all the jokes and self-bleeped cusses, the controversial mayor was in his usual element – eloquent in accented English and very much at home in Visayan.
He admitted he prefers to speak in English to avoid cursing but added that his cusses – the pu…na word – was alien to him as a Visayan until he was influenced by Tagalog speaking friends.
Marcos, at the Jaycees event, also delivered his own punch lines, saying he will not have problems with anybody winning the presidency.
His wife is an Araneta, a cousin of Mar Roxas, he said. He comes from the same region as Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also running for president. In the presence of Duterte, he said the Davao City mayor was his friend. He is the running mate of longshot Miriam Defensor Santiago. If Grace Poe wins, then he has no problem with his "rumored" sister.
Cayetano, at the Oval Plaza Gym event, was more serious, taking about how he and his presidential candidate will reform and reorganize government. He extolled Duterte and enumerated their reform agenda.
He also generously stepped aside and skipped the Jaycees meeting, even if he was also extended an invitation.
If there is anything in Saturday’s (January 16) activities in Gensan established, it is the power of mobility.
Duterte flew in via helicopter from Davao to a container yard 4 kilometers away from the General Santos city hall. Ten minutes later, Marcos also landed in a helicopter, this time at the grounds of the city's police office.
Not to be outdone, Cayetano flew into the city on a private plane.
Meat of the message
Despite the joke and humor-laden discourses in both affairs, he was consistent with his messages – fighting illegal drug syndicates, combating crime and corruption and nation-building.
He reiterated his resolve to stop crime and corruption within 3 to 6 months in office and if seriously challenged, he would use all presidential powers available for him.
He also wants to make peace with the Moro rebel groups and the communists.
But he said he wouldn't change his style and would not be pressured to do a makeover of himself.
“It would no longer me if a do a makeover of myself. Ayaw na lang (Don’t bother),” he told his host in an unannounced private dinner.
He later told the JCI crowd that he is willing to take his first election loss rather than succumb to pressures to change his image as the tough-talking mayor of Davao City.
Saturday’s sortie in General Santos City was the first time Duterte’s campaign machinery was put into action – and it went just fine despite the Marcos and Cayetano challenge. – Edwin Espejo / Rappler.com
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