MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) tandem has become more aggressive in its attack against presidential bet Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
On Wednesday, April 13, Vice President Jejomar Binay published a Facebook video telling voters that it is their “moral responsibility” to prevent a Duterte presidency. (WATCH: Binay: Duterte is an executioner)
Binay’s running mate, Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, also released a political advertisement this week with the same theme, though he clarified on Thursday that the advertisement was “not intended to attack anyone.”
Since April 8, the UNA standard-bearer’s speeches in campaign sorties have included tirades against Duterte, who has surged in election polls last week and has now grabbed the solo lead back-to-back in the latest ABS-CBN and Social Weather Stations surveys.
Duterte vows that if he is elected president, he would end crime within 3 to 6 months but has not given a detailed plan on how he intended to achieve this. Days after coming under attack, however, he modified his promise and said he would just “suppress” crime, conceding that it is impossible to end it.
The Davao mayor’s public remarks about shooting criminals, killing thousands, and even his quips about belonging to the Davao Death Squad have led critics to accuse him of tolerating vigilanteism as a way to solve crime.
This is the premise of Honasan’s television advertisement, which is posted on his Facebook account.
The senator warns voters against those who would kill even children out of “mere suspicion,” echoing the public statements of Binay against Duterte.
Duterte, however, has already denied his involvement in extrajudicial killings, saying he has only ordered the shooting of criminals who put up a violent resistance.
Asked why the UNA tandem is only zeroing in on the Davao City mayor just now, Binay’s communications director Joey Salgado said it is because they were finally able to gather “enough evidence.” (READ: Binay on Duterte’s debate dare: ‘Any time, any place’)
“It was only recently that we validated these reports from concerned citizens of Davao City. What sounded like mere bluster from Duterte turned out to be true,” Salgado told Rappler.
‘Worse than Martial Law’
Binay’s video, entitled “Right to Life,” was posted on his official Facebook account early Wednesday morning.
He addresses the public and tells them that those who will vote for Duterte would later regret their decision when the mayor is elected.
“Pero kay Duterte, kapag nangyari sa inyo ang ginawa niya sa Davao na pagpatay ng mga bata, mga mahihirap, at mga mangmang batay lamang sa kanyang suspetsang may ginawang mali, lumabag sa batas, saka ka pa magsisisi kapag ginawa sa ’yo ‘yan at pinatay ang iyong mahal sa buhay,” says Binay.
(With Duterte, if what he has done in Davao happens to you or to your loved ones – the killing of children, the poor, and the illiterate based on mere suspicion of going against the law – that is only when you will regret your vote.)
The Vice President even brings up his stint as a human rights lawyer during the martial law years to strengthen his message against the tough-talking mayor.
“Mga kabababayan, tutulan po natin ‘to. Hindi po dapat manaig ito. Tayo po ay naglaban sa martial law. E itong sinasabi po ni Mr Duterte, masahol pa sa martial law,” said Binay.
(My countrymen, let us put a stop this. This should not happen. I fought against martial law. What Mr Duterte is saying is worse than martial law.)
Solve poverty first, then crime
Honasan’s political advertisement begins with a teenage boy with a sack over his face. He is brought to a dark, undisclosed location by 3 men riding a van.
“Paano kung anak mo ay napaghinalaan lang (What if you child was merely accused)?”
The boy is roughly thrown on the ground.
“Dadamputin na agad at bubugbugin para sapilitang umamin (Will he be nabbed and beaten up to force him to admit to something he did not do)? ”
The boy, kneeling down, pleads to his captors.
“Paano kung sa anak mo mangyari ang ganito (What if this happens to your child)?”
The video fades to black, but a gunshot is heard in the background. (READ: Your life under the next dictator)
Honasan then appears on screen.
“Ubusin man natin ang lahat ng pinaghihinalaan na gumawa ng krimen, hindi pa rin ito ang solusyon sa tunay na problema (We may get rid of all those we suspect to have committed crimes, but this is not the solution to the real problem),” says the former soldier, rebel, and coup plotter.
At the end of the video, Honasan puts forth his party’s longstanding message that poverty is the moral problem that the UNA tandem would seek to address.
“Dahil ang tunay na problema ay kahirapan. Kaya para masugpo natin ang krimen, sugpuin muna natin ang kahirapan (Because the real problem is poverty. To solve crime, we need to address poverty first).”
On Thursday afternoon, Honasan clarified on his official Facebook page that the advertisement does not aim to attack anyone.
“This video is not intended to attack anyone but to present what we believe is the right response and solution to a grievous problem facing our country today. We believe that at the root of the criminality problem is poverty. That if we address poverty in our society then the problem of criminality would be impacted positively,” wrote the senator.
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