Rebels call on Davao City voters to end 20-year rule of clan

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DAVAO CITY—Communist guerrillas are calling on voters in the city’s second congressional district to end the 20-year-old political rule of the Garcia family, but have kept silent on its strongest ally, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“At the expense of real development and progress for the people, the Garcias have … perfected the use of psychological warfare and terror sweetened by largesse during election day, especially in Paquibato District and outlying areas,” the New People’s Army (NPA) said in statement sent by e-mail.

The statement was issued by Parago Sandoval, spokesperson of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Command, which is operating in the district. It singled out reelectionist Rep. Mylene Garcia, daughter of three-term Rep. Manuel Garcia and sister of three-term Rep. Vicente Garcia.

Sought for comment, the woman lawmaker said: “While I disagree with some of their (rebels’) statements, I respect their views and I pray that they will join the rest of us in a free, honest and peaceful elections.”

The NPA said it found “objectionable” the “bullying” of local politicians campaigning in the district.

“It’s high time to change the politics of sheer self-perpetuation and coercive partisanship in the areas of Southern Mindanao and particularly in the rural districts of Davao City,” it said, even as it reiterated that it did not believe in elections.

Although the statement singled out Garcia, it was silent about Duterte, her strongest political ally and party-mate. Duterte leads Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod and is known to be on friendly terms with the guerrillas.

“The New People’s Army welcomes any opportunity, any development that would puncture the dynastic arrogation of power,” the statement said.

It accused Army soldiers belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion of serving as a “staunch private army” of the Garcias in “perpetuating the garrison-like campaigning and voting in Paquibato and other parts of the second district.”

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