MANILA, Philippines – Otso Diretso bet Samira Gutoc said President Rodrigo Duterte exercises an “overstretch” of power when local leaders refuse to be affiliated with the opposition slate.
During the CNN Philippines senatorial forum on Saturday, April 27, this was the opposition senatorial candidate’s response to a question on whether the Office of the President has “too much power.”
“There is an overstretch of power when local governments are afraid to host the Otso Diretso in their locations,” Gutoc said during the event held at the University of Santo Tomas.
“The silence of the public means there is an overstretch of too much power of our executive, the President,” she added.
Earlier, Otso Diretso campaign manager and Senator Francis Pangilinan sounded the alarm over the lack of local politicians supporting the opposition slate, attributing it to the fear of retaliation from the Duterte government.
Compared to election sorties by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Otso Diretso events are seldom hosted nor endorsed by local politician, fearing that they may be added to the list of alleged narcopoliticians if they do so, Pangilinan said.
To counter this, the opposition bets instead rely on volunteers to do house-to-house campaign for them. (READ: Otso Diretso turns to volunteers to boost struggling campaign)
Grave abuse of power?
Gutoc also pointed out there is a climate of fear under the Duterte administration.
She attributed this to Duterte’s “abuse of power” by declaring martial law in Mindanao, as well as arresting journalist Maria Ressa:
There is overstretch of power when martial law is declared in want part of the country—in Mindanao. There is overstretch of power when journalists are arrested. There is an overstretch of power when local governments are afraid to host the Otso Diretso in their locations. There is overstretch of power when there is fear, and judges are killed, lawyers are killed, and civilians are afraid to go out on the streets…. There is an overstretch of power when we do not question his rape jokes and statements against women. Silence… silence of the public means there is an overstretch of power of our executive, the President,” Gutoc said.
In response, retired general and former police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said the reality is the “opposite” of what Gutoc was saying.
“Kasalungatan ‘yung sinasabi ni Samira. ‘Pag nakausap ko [ang mga tao], they feel safer compared to before. Papaano ba na ayaw natin tanggapin ang katotohanan?” Dela Rosa said at the forum.
(What Samira’s saying is the opposite [of what’s happening]. When I talk to them, they feel safer than before. Why can’t we just accept the truth?)
But Gutoc told Dela Rosa to personally visit the Commonwealth area in Quezon City, as well as Baseco compound in Manila.
“Please go to Commonwealth, to Baseco, to these locations. Sila mismo nagkukuwestiyon sa ginagawa ninyo,” Gutoc told Dela Rosa. (Residents there are the ones who question whatever you are doing.)
From October 2017 to May 2018, an average of 4 people a day were killed by riding-in-tandem shooters. This means a total of 880 people nationwide have been shot dead, while 47 others have been injured, according to police records.
Since Duterte assumed office, the government recorded over 5,000 deaths in the anti-drug campaign from July 2016 to November 2018. But rights groups estimate over 20,000 deaths – a tally which included vigilante-style killings.
But the police shrugged it off and said it’s a “low” number. – Rappler.com