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Mar to Rody: Let’s slug it out

After Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (left) accepted a challenge to a slapping match, his rival Manuel Roxas II yesterday proposed to slug it out. File photos

Duterte wants a gun duel

MANILA, Philippines – Slapping is for girls; how about a fistfight?

After Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte accepted a challenge to a slapping match, his rival Manuel Roxas II yesterday proposed to slug it out.

While admitting that he was disappointed with himself for challenging Duterte to a slapping match, Roxas said he is ready to engage in a fistfight with the tough- talking mayor, whom he branded as a bully.

In response, Duterte said he and Roxas should not just resort to slapping or punching each other, but should have a gun duel.

“Just do what you want to do. And the slapping match? Bakit pa sampalan? Pambabae ‘yan. Suntukan na lang, di ba? (Why a slapping match? That’s for girls. How about a fistfight)?” Roxas told reporters yesterday at the Liberal Party (LP)’s Balay headquarters in Quezon City.

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“This is very simple. I am very sober and I am focused on what is good for the country,” he added.

Roxas said he was not able to control his emotions when he said he was ready to have a slapping match with Duterte.

“I was disappointed with myself and I was distracted,” he said.

The LP standard bearer, however, remained provocative yesterday and even gave his address in Quezon City in case Duterte wishes to go there to slap him.

“Talk. Talk. Talk. That’s all you do, Digong. You keep on talking… (gives address in Cubao, Quezon City). I will wait for you,” Roxas said, referring to the mayor by his nickname.

“I am angry with bullies. I am angry with those who take advantage. I am angry with those who act like kings. I am angry with those with heavy fists. I am angry with people who think they are the only powerful ones in our country,” he added.

Duterte, however, said a fistfight is not enough.

“Huwag na ang suntukan, barilan na lang (No to a fistfight, let’s have a gun fight),” quipped Duterte on the challenge of Roxas.

Duterte said that Roxas is a rich man so he is afraid to die.

The mayor even said earlier that he is willing to go to Roxas’ house in Cubao, Quezon City where he could slap Roxas in front of his mother Judy Araneta-Roxas.

“Do not fool us, Mar,” Duterte said.

Duterte said Roxas is a fraud for claiming he is a graduate of the Wharton School of Economics when he is not.

“Do not pretend to be what you are not. Do not invent something that is not true,” Duterte said.

Duterte said that the photograph showing Roxas wearing a toga could have been his having finished a culinary course.

Duterte insisted that Roxas should not be considered as such because he completed only an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).

“Mar graduated at the University of Pennsylvania – that’s correct – but he is never a graduate of Wharton as what he claims to be. A Wharton graduate is a person who finishes his master’s degree at Wharton, meaning you are a graduate of MBA (Master in Business Administration) at Wharton. In your case, Mar, you are not, so don’t claim to be a man you cannot be... because you are not. UPenn graduate ka, and not Wharton,” Duterte stressed.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Duterte should first name the criminals he claimed he has killed before airing challenges to his political opponents.

“In the interest of the people knowing (the facts), he has to identify them. He’d have more swagger if he names them all but he can at least name a few,” Belmonte told reporters.

The Speaker said he remains a good friend of Duterte, his former colleague in Congress.

“I’m not quarreling with him, I’m trying to help him achieve credibility. If he names them, there can be a proper investigation,” Belmonte said.

Word war

The rift between Roxas and Duterte started last October when the mayor accused the LP camp of spreading rumors that he has throat cancer. Roxas, who used to be a close friend of Duterte, has denied the allegation.

The word war resumed early this month after Roxas said that Davao City under Duterte is far from being one of the safest places in the country.

Citing statistics from local police, Roxas said there were about 18,000 crime incidents that transpired in the city last year.

The comment appeared to have hit a raw nerve with Duterte, who has presents himself as a strong anti-crime crusader.

The mayor responded to Roxas’ statement by claiming that the LP presidential bet is not a graduate of Wharton School of Economics. He also threatened to slap Roxas if they see each other on the campaign trail.

Roxas, however, stressed that his statement about the criminal incidents in Davao was based on data from the Philippine National Police.

He went on to say that he should be allowed to slap Duterte if he was able to prove that he really graduated from Wharton, the business school of the University of Pennsylvania.

Roxas was included in the list of notable alumni in the University of Pennsylvania website.

According to the website, Roxas earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics at the Wharton School in 1979.

Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid spokesman and Akbayan Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez expressed doubts that Roxas would really engage in a slapping match with Duterte.

Wharton: Mar an alumnus

A list of notable alumni published in the UPenn’s website showed that Roxas finished his Bachelor of Science in Economics degree at the Wharton School in 1979.

The list, published in 2002 when Roxas was secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also carried his yearbook photo.

It included other notable alumni of the university, such as University of the Philippines economics professor Winnie Monsod, former senator Raul Roco and resigned DTI secretary Gregory Domingo.

Wharton is the oldest business school in the world and is widely known for its Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the graduate level.

It is also identified as one of UPenn’s four undergraduate schools as it offers an economics program in the undergraduate level.

Earlier, Duterte claimed that Roxas’ Wharton degree is a myth.

He challenged the administration candidate to a slapping match over the latter’s education background.

Netizens were abuzz over Roxas’ educational background following the challenge of Duterte, the standard-bearer of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

“Wharton” also trended on Twitter on Monday.

In his official campaign website, he even used “Wharton School of Economics” instead of the more popular “Wharton School of Business.”

The same phrasing of his educational background was used in his profile on the Senate website.

Another confusion may be attributed to the fact that UPenn offers two types of undergraduate programs in economics.

The Wharton School offers a BS degree, while the UPenn’s College of Arts and Sciences also offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics program.

Roxas finished the BS in Economics program at Wharton.

In its website, Wharton said its program applies business methods and economic theory to real-world problems, while the BA program focus mostly on theoretical issues without real-world component.

“Wharton’s curriculum allows you to concentrate on specific areas of business such as finance, marketing or management,” said the school.

“With a Wharton degree, you become a specialist in a business area – a BA in economics does not allow this customization,” it added.

Meanwhile, PDP-Laban deputy secretary-general for Metro Manila Martin Diño also challenged Roxas to a slapping match after he claimed that he could prove that the LP bet was a failure as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“If I can’t prove that former DOTC and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas was super failure, particularly in the campaign against illegal drugs, peace and order problems and the MRT and LRT issues in both agencies he once headed, I will offer free my left and right cheeks for him to slap, but if I can prove it otherwise that he is super failure in both agencies then it is my time to slap him,” Diño said yesterday.

Diño and other PDP-Laban officials attended yesterday the party seminar in Butuan City.

Sens. Gregorio Honasan and Nancy Binay, of the United Nationalist Alliance, urged Roxas and Duterte to raise the level of political discourse and focus on platforms for 2016.

“We should be talking about programs and platforms,” said Honasan.

Binay said that Christmas should be a time for loving.

For his part, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said Roxas and Duterte should act like statesmen after the two officials challenged each other to a slapping match.

Osmeña likened Roxas and Duterte to high school students who would resort to fistfights to settle differences.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo urged yesterday all presidential candidates to elevate the debates to a higher level, defining political platforms and programs of government.

He said presidential bets should avoid “gutter politics” that emphasizes mudslinging and personal attacks.

He said his appeal includes LP presidential candidate Roxas, whom he supports.

Mindanao officials back Mar

Meanwhile, local officials from Mindanao yesterday reaffirmed their support for Roxas amid the surge in Duterte’s survey ratings.

At least 24 lawmakers and governors met with Roxas at the LP’s Balay headquarters to assure him that the so-called “Duterte fever” would not hurt his chances in Mindanao.

“Definitely you have a regional bias because Duterte is really from Mindanao. But it doesn’t mean that everybody from Mindanao will go for Duterte,” Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said.

“We might be branded as traitors for not supporting Duterte as a presidential candidate as a Mindanaoan. But my answer is that the 2016 election is not about where you’re from, or your personality. The 2016 elections is about performance and what we can deliver to the people in the upcoming administration,” Lanao del Norte Gov. Khalid Dimaporo said.

Roxas’ supporters remain optimistic that he will win in Mindanao even if Duterte is running for president.

“We can still see victory for Sir Mar Roxas in the areas of Mindanao, especially in our areas in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali said.

Other officials who attended the meeting were Gov. Roberto Uy and Rep. Isagani Amatong of Zamboanga del Norte, Reps. Ann Hofer and Belma Cabilao of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rep. Imelda Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte, Iligan City Rep. Vicente Belmonte, Misamis Occidental Rep. Jorge Almonte, Misamis Oriental Rep. Peter Unabia, Reps. Rolando Uy and Juliette Uy of Cagayan de Oro, Compostela Valley Rep. Maricar Zamora, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Lagdameo, Davao Oriental Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang, North Cotabato Rep. Jose Tejada, South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez, Butuan City Rep. Lawrence Fortun, Agusan del Sur Rep. Evelyn Mellana, Lanao del Sur Rep. Hooky Adiong, Reps. Bai Sandra Sema and Zajid Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, and Sulu Rep. Maryam Nabi Arbison. – With Janvic Mateo, Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Ben Serrano

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