MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, May 7, said the call of presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II' for talks with rival Senator Grace Poe "is the ultimate insult to the Filipino people."
"It is a final act of betrayal. It reaffirms our conviction that the Aquino-Roxas clique will not give up power and will hold on to that power to preserve the interests of oligarchy that they represent," Duterte's national campaign manager Leoncio Evasco Jr said in a statement Saturday – a day after Roxas called on Poe to talk "for the unity of our country."
"They want Grace Poe to concede and give way to him so that their ilk will continue their exploitative reign. On top of this all is President Benigno Aquino III who is brokering the deal," added Evasco, mayor of Maribojoc in Bohol province.
Poe immediately rejected Roxas' proposal, and Vice President Jejomar Binay dismissed Aquino's call, too.
Evasco said "only a man on the verge of defeat can issue such frantic calls."
"A man who cannot accept defeat in a clean and honest election is now trying to subvert the sovereign will of the people by calling on the very rival he tried to eliminate to rally behind him and prevent Mayor Duterte from winning the presidency. It is not only an admission of defeat, it is also conceding that his kind is being repudiated by the people," he added.
The Bohol mayor also criticized the character of the Aquino regime as one "that will abandon ship and run like headless chicken" in the face of defeat.
On Friday, Roxas said his proposal to Poe is a call for unity, decency, democracy, and rule of law. But Evasco said the unity Duterte envisions is that of Filipinos who demand "meaningful and radical change in leadership."
"Only Mayor Rodrigo Duterte can unite the Filipino people. A united nation will make it difficult for the oligarch to again rule and reign over us. It is our unity that we should rally behind. Not the unity of the ruling elite,” he said, urging Filipinos to defeat "the machination of the ruling elite."
"No to the Aquino-Roxas conspiracy!" Evasco ended his statement.
The latest presidential preference polls released this week placed Roxas as either statistically tied with Poe for second place, or third in a tight presidential race.