Mar dares Duterte to honor word, withdraw
CLARK FIELD, Pampanga—Man up, Digong.
An unusually gutsy Mar Roxas on Monday dared his opponent, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, to make good on his word to withdraw from the race for Malacañang if the Liberal Party standard-bearer would be able to prove that Davao residents benefited from the government’s health insurance system.
Roxas also took Duterte to task for flip-flopping on his major policy statements, including his opinion on the country’s territorial dispute with China and his promise to end criminality within the first six months of his presidency.
“I just want to remind him: Man up,” Roxas said. “If he could not, then we will see what kind of person he is… He’s all talk and no action.”
“You’re making allegations without basis. You’ve been insulting people, uttering invectives at them. You’re just fooling the people. The Filipinos do not deserve this. Their future, their lives are at stake here,” he said.
Roxas also gave his erstwhile friend-turned-tormentor an unsolicited advice: “Stop fooling our countrymen. You like taking swipes [at your rivals] and issue incendiary and controversial statements. But these mean nothing. This is not the kind of leadership we need.”
During the presidential debate in Pangasinan on Sunday, Roxas crossed swords with Duterte when the feisty mayor claimed that residents in his city were not able to receive benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The mayor’s claim was a reaction to Roxas’ statement that majority of the population, including those living in far-off provinces, had been PhilHealth beneficiaries under the Aquino administration.
“Mayor Duterte, I dare you. If I will be able to show the name of individuals… who received aid from PhilHealth, will you withdraw [your candidacy]?” he said.
The tough-talking Duterte, who seemed surprised with Roxas’ goading, agreed to take on the challenge.
The brief face-off between Mr. Aquino’s chosen candidate and Duterte was the only heated exchange in the otherwise tame presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections at the University of Pangasinan.
The three other protagonists in the presidential race—Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago—also chose to hold their punches.
Citing official government records, Roxas on Monday said about P2.8 billion in PhilHealth benefits were released in 2015 to patients admitted in various medical facilities in Davao.
Under the Aquino administration, he said some 6.5 million patients had received a total of P75 billion in financial aid from PhilHealth.
Of this amount, he said P6.2 billion was given to patients in the Davao region.
According to Roxas, the PhilHealth records included the patients’ names and the medical facilities where they underwent treatment.
“These are facts and data. This is the truth,” he said. “For me, this reveals about who he is. You can see that what he’s saying are full of hot air.”
“If you try to confront him with facts, [Duterte] will only insult you, use foul language and change the story. Is that the kind of governance that will lead us to prosperity?”