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Candidates’ backers nearly come to blows in CDO

/ 04:19 AM April 28, 2013

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. Photo from congress.gov.ph

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—Supporters of opposing candidates nearly came to blows after Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is seeking reelection, and rival Ian Mark Nacaya traded accusations of impropriety and negligence of duty during a heated forum here on Friday.

The clash was prevented when moderators from Xavier University’s Research and Social Outreach (RSO) Office intervened and told Rodriguez and Nacaya to “tone down” their tirades and to ask their supporters to keep their cool.

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Rodriguez criticized Nacaya, chairman of the city council’s police, fire and public safety committee, for the city government’s alleged failure to stop rising criminality in the city.

He said that since January this year, more than 300 robberies were recorded in the city.

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Rodriguez said it was ironic that Nacaya was employed by the city government but was remiss in his duties as chairman of the public safety committee against criminality.

“There is a P60-million intelligence fund allotted to the local government but nothing has been done about peace and order in the city,” he said.

Rodriguez also blamed Nacaya and Mayor Vicente Emano for the prevalence of mining in the city, saying the councilor helped issue permits to miners.

Rodriguez said the issuance of permits took place while he was working for the passage of a total mining ban in Congress.

For his part, Nacaya said Rodriguez’s idea of good governance was to spend millions for the construction of a road to a farm that the lawmaker owned and for projects intended for Barangay (village) Nazareth, where he resided.

“The congressional office has a P70-million fund, but P6.8 million of it was used by Congressman Rufus Rodriguez solely for his village, where his sister serves as barangay captain,” he said.

As Rodriguez and Nacaya exchanged tirades, their supporters geared up for a physical confrontation.

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When the moderators sensed trouble, they approached the two candidates and asked them to calm down and to tell their supporters to remain in their seats.

In a bid to defuse the tension, another candidate for representative announced that he had accepted his defeat even as the balloting had yet to take place.

Independent candidate Eric Saarenas, who drew laughter from the crowd, turned serious when it was his time to speak, proposing that the priority development fund be scrapped “as this is the cause of all corruption.”—Cai Panlilio

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TAGS: Cagayan de Oro, candidates, Elections, Ian Mark Nacaya, Philippines - Regions, Politics, Rufus Rodriguez
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