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Santiago on Duterte: We have been friends for a long time

/ 03:43 PM February 25, 2016
PRES. DEBATES/FEBRUARY 21, 2016 Presidential debates held in Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City with  Sen. Miriam Santiago, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hugging. INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

Presidential debates held in Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City with Sen. Miriam Santiago, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hugging. INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The presidential debate on Sunday launched a new tandem between Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Miriam Santiago, which was christened by netizens as “DuRiam.”

Their apparent mutual admiration and respect for each other during the square off caught the attention of netizens who turned out as instant fans. Soon as the program was over, memes of the two started going around social media.

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Moments before the show was aired on television, Duterte approached Santiago and gave her a salute. They even hugged each other onstage.

While other presidentiables argued with one another during the debate, the two of them only exchanged praises.

When Santiago, who fought stage 4 cancer, was questioned about her health, Duterte instead defended Santiago in the rebuttal.

“I will not go into an argument with Ma’am Miriam. She’s telling you the truth. I don’t see Sen. Santiago passing away within the next 20 years so what’s the problem?” he said.

Prior to the show, Duterte said that he was threatened by Santiago because she was “bright” and he considers her as his greatest rival at the program.

“We have been friends for a very long time. He was one of the sponsors during my 25th wedding anniversary. And when I’m in Davao, I always try and pay him a visit for only a social purpose, nothing political. I’m always happy to see him… He’s always been a gentleman with me,” Santiago told INQUIRER.net before the event.

She added that the tough-talking mayor is “different from the public image.”

Santiago is trailing in surveys, consistently at the fifth spot among all contenders. But she was quick to defend herself.

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“I did not start to campaign until the formal start of the campaign period since Feb. 9. That’s because that’s what the law says, so I want to go around the country and point to them and tell the people, ‘Do not elect people like that because they are not yet in office and they are already violating the law,’” she said of her opponents who have started going around even before the official campaign launch early this month.

On Friday afternoon, Santiago will meet students of University of Cebu- Banilad campus. This will only be her third public appearance since the campaign period started on Feb. 9. JE

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TAGS: CDO debate, debates, Duriam, duterte, Elections2016, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, presidential debates, Rodrigo Duterte, Santiago
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