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Duterte talks dirty with big business

Addressing the Makati Business Club (MBC) and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Davao City Mayor Duterte focused mostly on his pet advocacy, which is promising that the country would be free from lawlessness and crime if he becomes president. File photo

MBC: Where’s the economic policy?

MANILA, Philippines – They gathered to listen to the economic policies of the presidential frontrunner.

Instead the business elite was treated yesterday to an hour and a half of a discourse by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte  that touched only tangentially on his plans for the economy, education, health and agriculture.

Addressing the Makati Business Club (MBC) and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Duterte focused mostly on his pet advocacy, which is promising that the country would be free from lawlessness and crime if he becomes president.

He also talked about his genitals and vowed to pardon himself for mass murder, as he took his profanity-laced campaign to the nation’s business elite.

Duterte defended his history of womanizing with typical straight-talking and crassness.

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“I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent. What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever?” Duterte said, referring to his penis. “When I take Viagra, it stands up.”

There was laughter in the audience. Others, however, said that Duterte missed a major opportunity to woo the private sector by failing to outline concrete programs for the economy.

However, they lauded him for his conviction in fighting criminality in the country.

“I was looking forward to his presentation on economic policies and programs, such as his view of the private sector and its key role, his view about opening up investment opportunities, his view about economic provisions, his real view about contractualization. There were policies that he did not have a chance to talk about which I would have brought up in the open forum. But there was no time,” MBC chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. said.

MAP president Perry Pe added, “I wanted him to expound more on agriculture, expound more on ease of doing business, but I guess as far as he is concerned, those will automatically follow if criminality has been solved. To him, it was a single-minded purpose just to stop criminality. I think that is what he came here for.”

Duterte was the third and last presidential candidate to appear at the MAP-MBC presidential forum, which earlier featured Sen. Grace Poe and Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II.

“Clearly the two (Poe and Roxas) knew this was a business group that wanted to hear more about economic policies and programs and they made it a point to address those issues. In the case of Mayor Duterte, his passion is really law and order and he chose to focus on that. And that’s fine, that is his prerogative,” Del Rosario added.

Pe explained: “The three candidates have totally different agenda and purpose so you cannot say one is better than the other. Secretary Mar was totally different because he was very clear-cut on certain things he would advocate for and Senator Grace was also different, so it’s hard to judge.”

Pe said Duterte’s forum attracted the largest crowd among the three, with nearly 400 guests attending.

Nasty word war

Meanwhile, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV warned fellow vice-presidential candidate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano that he should step aside in Trillanes’ nasty word war with Duterte.

Trillanes warned Cayetano that he would also expose him for alleged irregularities. The senator did not say what he has on Cayetano, but Trillanes is known to be an expert on digging up dirt against his enemies.

Trillanes claimed that Duterte has an alleged P211-million account that was not declared in the mayor’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). The senator said he was only talking about 2014.

“I am still validating with the accountants and auditors the other figures on Duterte’s illegal wealth,” Trillanes said in Filipino.

He claimed that Duterte has P211 million deposited at the Bank of the Philippine Islands branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City. The money is allegedly deposited in a joint account with Duterte’s daughter Sara.

At least eight cash deposits were allegedly credited to the BPI branch on Duterte’s 69th birthday on March 28, 2014. Total deposits were said to have reached P197 million.

The tough-talking presidential candidate has denied this, saying that Trillanes is only bitter because he did not choose the senator as his runningmate.

“Buang siya (He is crazy). I will not make it easy for him. What he is saying is garbage, all lies!” said Duterte.

But Trillanes stood pat on his allegations. “I stand by my information. I’ve done this before and I’ve never been proven wrong. All the revelations I’ve made during investigations were proven to be true. The truth came out.”

When asked about the timing of his exposé, the former Navy officer said that he would have revealed the information earlier had he uncovered the evidence earlier.

Trillanes said his evidence is iron-clad and his sources, unimpeachable. “Many individuals remain patriotic. They have joined me in my call to avoid electing a psychopath as commander-in-chief… I’ve warned Digong earlier not to mess with me. He is pretending to be poor but he’s just fooling the people. He has hundreds of millions of pesos in the bank. And we’re not yet talking about his other bank accounts.”

Cayetano earlier said: “It’s quite sad that a supposedly principled man like Sen. Trillanes would resort to such a cheap and shameful gimmick against Mayor Duterte. It’s a pitiful sight to see him reduce himself from being a protector of the people to being a ‘Poetector.’” Trillanes is supporting the candidacy of Grace Poe for president.

Trillanes’ response was swift and scathing. He said: “Tumatabi-tabi siya, hindi siya ang focus ko dito (He should step aside, he is not my focus here). I’m taking one political monster at a time. Nakatutok tayo kay Digong. Ngayon, kung gusto niyang bumalandra d’yan eh. . . (I’m focused on Digong. Now, if he wants to meddle, then. . .)” he said in a telephone interview, his voice trailing off.

Trillanes and Cayetano are both members of the Nacionalista Party led by former Senate president and real-estate magnate, Manny Villar.

The duo, along with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, were together in the Senate during the long-running Blue Ribbon committee probe on the graft and corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Pimentel, president of PDP Laban, also dismissed yesterday Trillanes’ allegations.

“It is easy to accuse (someone). It is easy to fabricate documents. Why is it that when Trillanes wants to expose something, any time he wants, he is complete with papers?” he asked in Filipino.

“We just don’t believe any document and statements of bank balances unless, of course, these are from the AMLC,” Pimentel said, referring to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

As far as the senator’s camp is concerned, Pimentel said the elections are already over, apparently sure of a landslide Duterte victory on May 9.

“It will not affect Duterte’s winning chances because I believe that the election is already over,” he added.

“The people have decided it is Digong for the win, Duterte is the new president,” Pimentel said.

Cayetano added, “The enemies of change are clearly panicking. They are scared. They are throwing the entire kitchen sink at Mayor Duterte. They have all the reasons to be scared. Change is coming.”

Duterte’s spokesman Peter Laviña also said Trillanes’ allegation is “the product of a fertile and malicious mind.”

 Cam cries foul

Senatorial candidate Sandra Cam, who has been campaigning for Duterte, cried foul over the decision of someone in the Duterte camp to junk her from its senatorial slate. 

Cam was disappointed by the decision of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MMRD-NEC) to dislodge her, but said she respects their decision.

“It is an MMRD-NEC thing and it’s not a political party. I respect their decision, but Mayor Duterte knows where my heart  lies,” the teary-eyed Cam said in Filipino.

She said that she will still continue campaigning for Duterte even after their falling out.

Senatorial candidate Levito Baligod was also not included in the list. Cam and Baligod are among the senatorial bets who have been joining Duterte in his sorties since the campaign period started.

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman Martin Diño, who endorsed 12 senatorial candidates yesterday morning, said they went through a tedious process in winnowing the candidates. Cam was not one of those chosen.

Diño, who filed a certificate of candidacy and was later on substituted by Duterte, clarified that they are not a political organization and that their endorsement is their decision and not Duterte’s.

The MMRD-NEC officially endorsed Aldin Ali, Rafael Alunan, Greco Belgico, Dick Gordon, Teofisto Guingona III, Dante Liban, Serge Osmeña, Jericho Petilla, Roman Romulo, Dionisio Santiago, Francis Tolentino and Migz Zubiri as part of Duterte’s senatorial slate.

Spokesman Laviña told The Star in a text message that Duterte is endorsing “a number of Senate bets,” but said that nothing is official yet as the PDP-Laban has adopted its own line-up.

Laviña said that the official announcement of the senatorial bets should come from the PDP-Laban. – With Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez, Mike Frialde

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