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Duterte back, takes swing at rivals

TAGUM CITY—Two days after a severe migraine headache sidelined him, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was at it again—making fun of his rivals, particularly the administration Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas, urging him to show that he was “circumcised.”

The standard-bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) was beaming at his campaign rally here on Saturday, brushing aside concerns about his health after he abruptly cancelled an address before medical professionals in Manila.

Duterte was cracking jokes about his reported illnesses and his sickly appearance on television during his proclamation rally in Tondo, Manila, last Tuesday.

“The truth was that a policeman had stepped on my toes,” Duterte said, drawing laughs from the thousands of supporters that thronged the sprawling new city hall complex in Tagum.

The mayor then took a swipe at Roxas for saying that his frail demeanor, the way he walked, in recent public appearances was the result of hypertension. “I had a bronchial infection,” he said. “My detractors thought I was dying.”

He admitted to a spinal problem due to a motorcycle accident 10 years ago. He said he was prepared to release his medical records “if Roxas would show to the public he is circumcised.”

Of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Duterte said: “He is healthy because he has ample exercise. I said, “how can you not have enough exercise when you’ve been counting billions of pesos in five years?” Binay has faced plunder allegations in connection with alleged irregularities when he was mayor of Makati City.

‘Three to six’

Turning serious, Duterte spelled out his program to eradicate drugs, criminality and corruption in government. “I give myself a very limited time of three to six months. If I say I will do something, I will surely do it. If I say (crimes) should stop, they should stop,” he said.

Among the four presidential candidates, Duterte said only he and Binay were competent to fight drugs and criminality.

“But I can also talk about corruption. This other candidate, however, has some baggage,” Duterte said, apparently referring to Binay. As for Roxas and Sen. Grace Poe, Duterte said: “Sus, Ginoo (My God).”

In his hourlong speech, Duterte was very emphatic. At one point, he sauntered to a corner and touched the flag to stress a point.

A light rain prompted Duterte to end his speech and hastily raise the hands of PDP-Laban allies from Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.

Present at the rally was Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, son of PDP-Laban founder, former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

Duterte said his running for president was spurred by the irregularities he had observed and experienced in government and in Filipino society.

Salary increases

If elected, Duterte said he would look out for the welfare of the police and soldiers by doubling their salaries so they would not be tempted into corruption. He also pledged to increase teachers’ salaries, saying his mother was a school teacher.

The mayor also vowed to uplift the lives of the indigenous peoples (IPs), or the “lumad,” by providing them with easy access to education.

Despite a possible backlash from the Catholic Church and other conservatives, Duterte said he would strengthen the government’s family planning program, such as giving incentives to couples who opt to undergo ligation and other birth control methods.

He laid out his economic platform, such as establishing food terminals and boosting agriculture.

Duterte cited the advantages of federalism in decentralizing the government and redistributing wealth throughout the country so as not to concentrate development only in Manila.

Organizers claimed some 20,000 people attended the rally.

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