DAVAO CITY: Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte on Friday said he will run for President in 2016 if his critics, particularly former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Loretta Ann Rosales, will continue to campaign against him.
“After hearing them make challenges, that they will go out and campaign against me [then I will run for President]. If there are about a thousand Etta Rosaleses, I will win the elections hands down,” he told reporters.
The Davao City mayor, who is believed to be gunning for a national position in the 2016 polls, was reacting to a statement attributed to Rosales in which she said a Duterte presidency would bring the country back to the dark days of martial law.
Rosales, a political detainee during the Marcos regime, made the statement after Duterte allegedly admitted his links to a vigilante group known as the DDS or the Davao Death Squad.
“If the guy believes what he says, he will bring us all back to martial law days,” she said in a television interview.
“Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, do you not believe in the Edsa revolution? Do you not believe in democracy and justice? You answer me… because if you cannot, and you do not believe, and you intend to do with all your extra-judicial killings, then I think we should campaign against you,” Rosales added.
She said Duterte’s apparent impunity reflects the poor state of the country’s criminal justice system.
“[He is] a negative example of why the criminal justice system fails to improve,” Rosales noted.
Firing back at Rosales, Duterte said she has no moral ascendancy to even criticize him.
“She has a lot of explaining to do,” he added. “Whatever happened to the cash advances she made from Janet Napoles?”
Rosales, who represented the Akbayan party-list in Congress before President Benigno Aquino 3rd selected her to replace Leila de Lima as CHR chairman, was among the lawmakers who were linked to the controversial pork barrel scam, which was allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles, a businesswoman.
Rosales denied this.
“In my nine years in Congress as a representative of Akbayan party-list, I performed my duties and responsibilities with utmost integrity,” she said in a statement.
“I have never transacted with Napoles nor were projects in Congress ever handled by Napoles or her fake NGOs [non-government organizations],” Rosales added.
Despite getting flak over his alleged links to the DDS, political scientist Prospero de Vera said Duterte’s ratings will further increase.
De Vera of the University of the Philippines said Duterte’s 12 percent popularity rating based on a recent Pulse Asia survey would probably hit 16 percent in the next round of pre-election polling.
“Voters are getting introduced to Mayor Duterte. He’s gaining ground as he moves around the country and his support base is gaining strength especially among Visayans,” he noted in a radio interview.
Duterte traces his roots to Cebu province in Central Visayas.
Moreover, his hard-hitting style in expressing his views especially against his critics is working to his advantage.
“People like his style especially when he immediately retaliates against his critics,” de Vera told Manila-based radio station dzMM.
With JEFRY M. TUPAS