CHICAGO – An overseas leader supporting the presidential tandem of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo is unfazed by the sudden popularity of tough-talking Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has topped recent surveys.
Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis, who is in charge of global Filipinos for the Mar-Leni campaign, said Duterte’s campaign could implode at the homestretch.
Lewis, who hails from Sorsogon City, Philippines, spoke at a rally held last Dec. 5 in the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Convention Center at 5440 North River Road in suburban Rosemont, Illinois. It was attended by at least 100 Filipinos.
Lewis said that the Davao mayor “just stabbed himself” when he opened his mouth in front of television cameras that “he had killed people — isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat (one, two, three, four).”
“Do you want to elect a self-confessed murderer?” she asked. “Minurder naman niya mga drug lord, rapist. (He murdered drug lord and rapist.) Yes, (but) “what about his boast that he executed a group of men who abducted and gang-raped a Filipino Chinese girl?”
Lewis quoted Duterte as saying, “Those idiots were inside a house, having their food cooked. When they went down, I finished them off. This is the kind of killing that’s beautiful.’ I was even posing like Fernando Poe.”
The mayor continued: “Then I brought their bodies to the inside of their car and I set it on fire to show my brutality.”
“Anong klaseng magiging president ito? (What kind of president is this?), she asked.
Lewis added, “Second, Duterte admitted, ‘I have two wives, and two mistresses.’” Do you want that our president in a very Catholic country has two wives?
“But for him to say, ang youngest mistress ko gustong humingi sa akin ng second-hand car. (My youngest mistress is asking from him a second-hand car) and he added, ‘Darling, sinusundo ko naman ikaw, at ibinabalik ko ikaw kasi short-time lang tayo. (Darling, I am giving you a lift and driving you back to your place because we only have a brief tryst.)!”
Lewis said that what really takes the cake was when Duterte cursed Pope Francis. “Do you want that kind of president? We all love Pope Francis, can you believe, he said “P … the Pope?
“Anong klaseng Presidente yan? (What kind of President is he?) I don’t have to say anything more. They all came from his own mouth. That’s not what the Philippines needs,” Ms. Lewis said.
At the rally, Leni’s sister-in-law, Dr. Jocelyn Robredo-Austria, a practicing neonatologist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was on hand to read the message of Rep. Robredo. Leni appealed to Filipinos to vote for candidates, who “share our hopes and who can give a brighter future for the Philippines and fellow Filipinos.”
While married and raising a family, Leni attended law school. But the demands of her time for the needs of her family took away her focus from her bar review, and this prevented her from passing the bar in her first try. Leni passed the bar in her second attempt.
Leni said the keys to sustainable and inclusive developments are empowerment and participation. She subscribes to the idea of a U.S president, who said, “Change will not come if we wait for other person. We are the change that we see. This is true in our life. This is true in the U.S. Let’s lead that change in our country mates.”
Lewis said in pursuing “tuwid na daan,” except for a few Cabinet members, the Mar-Leni team will retain some of the most outstanding members of the President Aquino’s Cabinet. Among them are Secretaries Albert F. del Rosario (foreign affairs), Rogelio L. Singson (public works and highways), Dinky Soliman (social welfare and development), Armin A. Luistro (education), Patricia B. Licuanan (commissioner, higher education), Cesar Purisima (finance), Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. (governor, Central Bank) and Kim Henares (internal revenue).
She said the finance team of the Aquino government kept the Philippines one of the best in the world, improving the ranking of the Philippines from 148th to 95th in the world significant improvement in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index; the Standard & Poor’s Foreign Rating in August 2014, gave the Philippines a credit rating of triple B (BBB) from triple C (CCC), making the country gain an investment-grade status, which allows the Philippines to let other countries borrow money from the Philippines at a lower interest of 3% to 4% in 2015; and the Bloomberg placed the Philippine growth now second to China in global economy and the Philippines “in top 20 economies in the world.”
Aside from his illustrious political pedigree (Roxas’s grandfather is the first Philippine Republic president), Ms. Lewis said, Mar Roxas’s 22-year government career led to the introduction in the Philippines of the BPO (business process outsourcing) or call centers, which started with 2,000 jobs and had grown to 1.2-million jobs with income of $20 bilion annually and could overtake the annual remittance of $25 billion by OFWs to the Philippines in five years and is still growing.
The reason Mar Roxas is lagging behind in rating is very simple, Lewis said. “Si Mar ay hindi nagbubuhat ng kanyang sariling bangko” (Mar does not promote his own accomplishments.)