Can Roxas and Duterte be friends again?

PAMPANGA, Philippines – When politics becomes personal, it’s hard to mend broken ties.

Administration candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II knows this too well, as he apparently spurned an attempt last Sunday, April 24, by friend-turned-foe Rodrigo Duterte to bury the hatchet.

It happened during one of the commercial breaks during the final presidential debate that was held in Dagupan City. Roxas recalled that the Davao mayor approached him to say they’re “friends again.”

The Liberal Party bet, who’s trailing front runner Duterte in the polls, seemed to have shunned the offer. “Yun ba ang pagtingin niya sa isang kaibigan? ‘Yun ba ang pagpapahalaga niya sa isang kaibigan? Mumurahin niya, iinsultuhin niya ng walang basehan? Siya na siguro ang dapat na magpaliwanag kung bakit niya ginagawa ito,” he said. (Is that how you treat a friend? Is that how you value a friend? You curse him, you insult him without any basis? I think it’s best he explain why he’s doing this.) 

In the course of the campaign, Duterte has accused Roxas of lying, called him “bayot” (gay), and described his decisions as “stupid.”

Akala ko kilala ko siya. Tinurin ko siyang kaibigan. Mabuti nalang nakita ko itong aspeto ng kanyang pagkatao (I thought I knew him. I considered him a friend. But it’s good that I saw this part of his character),” Roxas told reporters on Monday, April 25.

The two have known each other since their stints in Congress – Roxas as Capiz representative and Duterte, as Davao City representative. In 2010, when Roxas ran for vice president, Duterte campaigned aggressively for his friend in the Davao Region. 

Times are different now. The two have been at odds since 2015, when Duterte accused Roxas of being behind “black propaganda” against him. During the last Commission on Elections (Comelec)-organized presidential on Sunday, the two tangled again on the issue of universal health care. 

During the debate, Roxas challenged Duterte to withdraw from the presidential race should the administration bet prove that “thousands” of Davaoeños benefitted from PhilHealth. 

“I do not believe you. You have made so many promises in your term in the government on – lahat halos wala kayong naibigay sa tao. Puro daldal, puro announcement, puro lahat (you gave practically nothing to the people. It was all talk, all announcement),” Duterte told Roxas after he said he could come out with a list of Davao City residents who benefited from PhilHealth. 

“Mayor Duterte, I dare you. Kung may mapakita akong tao, pangalan, ospital na talagang natulungan sa Davao City, ikaw ba'y aatras (If I can show a person, a name, a hospital who really benefitted in Davao City, will you back out of the race)?” Roxas shot back.

Duterte said he would. 

On Monday, Roxas said his campaign team was in the process of transmitting those documents to the Duterte camp. Asked if he’d press on Duterte to really drop out of the presidential race, Roxas only said he’d “remind” his friend-turned-rival about his commitment. 

“For me, this reveals who he is. Nakikita dito yung kabulukan, yung kawalang laman ng kanyang katayuan. Daldal nang daldal, dakdak nang dakdak... mga controversial statements pero sa dulo, wala namang laman,” said Roxas. 

(You see that there’s nothing behind his stand on things. He keeps on talking, saying these controversial statements but in the end, it’s all hot air.)

Well, the "hot air" continued to surge in the surveys, based on the latest one conducted by the Social Weather Stations. – Rappler.com