DAVAO CITY: Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday admitted allegations made by a detained Army general that he was a Red coddler much as he also embraces Filipinos of other colors and political persuasions.
“Yes, I coddle the Reds, they are Filipinos after all. I also coddle the other Filipinos who have been categorized to belong to the three other major colors representing the national flag–blue, yellow and white,” he told reporters here.
Duterte was reacting to a statement made by retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan who said the feisty mayor should be prevented from running for President for being a sympathizer of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Palparan–infamously known as “The Butcher” for his alleged links to the killing and disappearance of activists during the Arroyo regime–was apparently referring to the funeral of NPA commander Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, in July where thousands of rebels and their sympathizers were allowed to hold a march in Davao City.
Duterte is known to be friendly to all rebel groups.
“I talk to the Left, the Right, the MNLF and the MILF in an effort to find a common ground to bring about peace and unity in this country,” he said.
It is only in Davao City that leaders of different tribes of lumad (indigenous people) and Muslim groups stand as deputized mayors for their respective communities.
“I believe in equality and this is the reason why I worked for the passage of a City Ordinance imposing stiff penalties on those who discriminate against Muslims and the LGBTs [lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders],” Duterte said, referring to the passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance.
“The only people I do not deal with are the criminals and the drug dealers because unlike the revolutionaries who are motivated by their principles and ideology, they [criminals and drug dealers]are consumed by greed and the desire to gain while causing other people pain. I detest them,” he added.
Duterte believes that Palparan and his supporters are employing the “Red scare tactic” to vilify him.
“While I have no desire to be President of this country, some individuals are using the Red scare tactic by warning people that a Duterte presidency would mean a victory for the communist movement in the Philippines,” he said.
“Why? Has Davao become a communist city? Do you see NPA [New People’s Army]cadres carrying guns parading in the city streets?” Duterte asked.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“The country does not need bigots like this pathetic army general who gloats about his image as ‘The Butcher’ of young and bright college students,” Duterte said in a statement.
“Unlike the pathetic former army general who sees things Red because of his bloodshot eyes, I have never been accused of murdering bright, young and idealistic Filipino children whose only offense, if it could be called as such, was to denounce the social injustices and the oppression of the Filipino people,” he added.
Palparan was arrested and is on trial for the disappearance in 2006 of two University of the Philippines students–Shirlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.
Duterte said Palparan is one of the country’s misfortunes.
“Our greatest misfortune as a people is having leaders and prominent individuals who divide this country into groups represented by colors, ethnicity and religious beliefs,” he noted.
The mayor said the accusation that he is a “Red coddler is a perfect example of the bigotry which has afflicted our country like a scourge which breaks down Filipinos into small groups, preventing us from uniting and achieving our dreams as a people under one flag.”