Saturday, February 7, 2015


By Manny Piñol

As the popularity of Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte shoots up following the conduct of the "Listening Tour" where he was met by huge and enthusiastic crowds, an apparent demolition job has started in an effort to stop the colorful and controversial political leader from becoming President of the Philippines in 2016.

The social media and Facebook pages, including MannyPiñ, have been flooded with links to an abs-cbn story which quoted Mayor Duterte as saying that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should not be blamed for the Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident Jan. 25 where 44 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the PNP were killed while involved in the operation to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

The story quoted the Mayor's statements during an impromptu press conference Jan. 27 in Davao City, two days after the Mamasapano.

I was present during the interview held at the business center of the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City and I even took pictures.

What were the salient points mentioned by Mayor Duterte during the interview?

1. The MILF is not entirely to be blamed for the "mis-encounter" because the government violated an agreement it signed with the rebel group that it would coordinate first before conducting any operation in areas identified as part of the MILF camps.

2. The MILF, however, should be held accountable, especially after the group was believed to have coddled the terrorists the government troops were after."Ang problema dito rin sa MI[LF], nasa loob 'yung mga terorista, so parang protected. In other words, they are harboring the two," he explained.

3. He suggested that the deliberations by Congress and the Senate on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law which both the government and the MILF are pushing, should be halted in the meantime: "In the meantime, there should be a stop...sabihin sa MI[LF] ngayon, hinto muna tayo. We will sort out things, what really happened, and after that we are ready to talk again," he said.

During the same conference, Mayor Duterte expressed extreme grief and dismay over the senseless loss of lives on the part of the 44 young policemen who followed the command of their superiors and who died in line of duty.

These were the facts which any reporter or writer could use in writing a story for distribution to the public.

As a former news reporter and later on news editor for the Philippine News Agency and senior copy editor of Tempo, I would have angled my story focusing on the call of Mayor Duterte for the suspension of the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

In fact, in a story I wrote for this page using the same facts, said:
"Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte, angered and saddened by the needless and senseless brutality and savagery in the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force in a clash with rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday, has asked the Philippine Congress to suspend deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law until justice has been rendered."

Then the items on the government, for violating an agreement it signed with the MILF, and MILF, for coddling terrorists also in violation of the same agreement, could follow.

The ABS-CBN report, however, focused on Duterte's statement which said that the MILF should not be blamed entirely for the encounter because government "derogated" that part of the Philippine territory as part of the camp of the MILF which they were not supposed to enter without coordination.

Due to the angle used by the reporter and editor in treating the story, it was made to appear that the Mayor was defending the MILF when in fact he was just identifying who were responsible for the tragic incident.

But nobody could question the editorial judgement of the ABS-CBN news editors. For them, angling the story on the MILF "not to be blamed" slant was more interesting than the "BBL talks should be suspended."

Detractors of Mayor Duterte, obviously scared by the meteoric rise of the Mayor in the public preference for presidential hopefuls, used the ABS-CBN story in starting a demolition job against the Mayor.

The only problem these detractors are facing is that while one badly angled story may initially cause confusion and even displeasure especially because of the national outrage over the massacre, it cannot be relied upon for a sustained demolition attack.

Besides, a keener eye would immediately see that in the bottom portion of the ABS-CBN story were the important details which could have changed the whole presentation of the article.

But that's par for the course in politics. Issues will be hurled against those whose political stocks are increasing and who could be a threat to the other candidate's interests.

The good thing is that these issues could easily be explained.

The issues that matter most to the Filipinos today are Corruption and Criminality.

These are problems which Rody Duterte has handled very well.

He has made Davao City corruption free and his campaign against criminality made it the 4th Safest City in the World to Live In.

What is more difficult to explain is when a presidential wannabe is swamped with charges of corruption, to which he has not offered a credible explanation, or of incompetence for which there is no cure.

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