DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – "Ano ang sinasabi mo... deretsuhin mo ako, misis ko ito. Sinasabi mo ba na ginagamit ng misis ko ['yung Department of Agriculture]? Una, pribado ang kanyang sasakyan. Pribadong pera ang kanyang ginagamit. Inaanyayahan siya. Ang sinasabi mo ba ay hindi siya pupunta sa kung saan siya ikinukumbida? 'Di ba? Baka ginagawan mo lang ng issue ito na wala namang issue."
"What are you trying to tell me," a visibly piqued Manuel Roxas II asked a reporter on the sidelines of a campaign sortie in Kapalong town in this province on Tuesday, March 8. "Are you saying that my wife is using [the Department of Agriculture]? First of all, she used a private vehicle. Second, she was invited [to the event]. Are you saying that she should not go where she is invited? Maybe you're just making an issue out of it. It’s a non-issue."
The administration standard-bearer was responding to reporters' questions about allegations that his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez-Roxas, has been using DA events and programs to campaign for him.
Posts on Sanchez's social media accounts show her in numerous events with farmers, alongside DA Secretary Proceso Alcala.
The camp of presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte earlier questioned why Sanchez attends these events.
"Is Korina employed by the DA? Why is she the one giving the checks to the farmers? Korina is now an accomplice in a systematic shameless act that conditions the electorate to accept doles in exchange for votes," Duterte’s spokesman Peter Laviña said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay's camp made the same allegations.
But Roxas stressed: "Wala po siya during the distributions. Inaanyayahan siyang makidalo at magbigay ng mensahe. Kung nagtataon sa kanilang schedule ay dumadalo siya (She’s not there during the distribution. She’s invited to join the event and give a message and if it so happens that her schedule is free, she attends)."
The administration bet initially dismissed questions about Sanchez, asking reporters: "Yung mga ganoong walang basehan ay kailangan ko pa bang komentahin 'yan (Do I have to comment on these baseless accusations)?"
But when pressed by media, Roxas showed pique. "May ano ba na hindi siya pwedeng magbiyahe at mangampanya para sa kanyang asawa? Ano ang issue? Siya ang nangangampanya para sa kanyang asawa. 'Yan ba ay tama or mali? Or illegal, di ba? So ano ang tinatanong mo?" Roxas said.
(Is there a rule that says she can't travel and campaign for her husband? And what's the issue? She's campaigning for her husband. Is that wrong or right? Is it illegal? So what's your question?)
Roxas insisted it's a non-issue. A reporter quipped that it's a usual accusation on social media.
"'Yun ang usual pero 'yun ang sinasabi ko [na hindi] dahil lamang na may mga binabato na paratang, mga binabatong akusasyon, hindi ibig sabihin na totoo iyan,” Roxas shot back. (That's the usual but what I'm saying is that just because these accusations are being hurled against me, it doesn't mean they're true.)
Alcala's regular guest
Roxas' spokesman Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez earlier told Rappler that Sanchez-Roxas is a "regular invitee" of Alcala to be a guest in his department's events for fishermen and farmers.
Gutierrez explained that Sanchez-Roxas "is only there as guest speaker in these events and does not physically distribute the DA subsidies given to the farmers and fishermen."
"She has been to several of these DA events and at no time did she hand out cash or kind to any of the participants in these events. In Pampanga recently, she was requested by Governor Lilia Pineda to join the recipients on stage for a celebrity photo-op," added Gutierrez.
Rappler asked Alcala to comment but did not get a reply as of posting.
The LP standard-bearer and his wife have been married for over 7 years. She’s been a constant presence in his campaign, doing her own rounds in the provinces to court votes for Roxas. – Rappler.com