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DAVAO CITY – To declare “persona non grata” or to forgive?

That seems to be the issue sparked by a city resolution declaring comedian Ramon Bautista a “persona non grata” in this city.

Recently, the city council presided over by Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte declared Bautista as “persona non grata” through a resolution that stemmed from an unflattering comment the comedian made on the women of this city.

But City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte thinks an apology made by Bautista is enough to erase the wrong done.

Mayor Duterte has assured Bautista over a phone conversation that his apology is enough, and that the comedian may come back to this city.

“When a man humbles himself and apologizes for uttering a slur, that itself erases the wrong. To nurture residual hate against the guy is a human frailty,” Duterte said in an interview with media.

The remark that started the issue is “hipon,” which means “shrimp,” but in street talk it means “ugly.” Bautista’s remark likening the women he met in Davao to “hipon” (shrimp) was found insulting by those who heard it. The remark was made during one of the major events in the 29th Kadayawan sa Dabaw.

This triggered a word war between Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his son Vice Mayor Duterte.

The younger Duterte has a different stand on the issue.  In a statement, he said that he respects the opinion of his father in welcoming Bautista to Davao City.  But he reminded the mayor to respect the City Council’s resolution declaring Bautista a “persona non grata.”

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“He should respect the decision of the City Council because the body represents the people of Davao City who voted for him for decades,” the vice mayor said.

He said that “the mayor of Davao City can always welcome anybody he wants on a personal level,” but he added that as long as Davao City is concerned, Bautista is unwelcome because of the “persona non grata” resolution.

The elder Duterte reacting to his son’s statement, saying the resolution did not bind him or anyone who disagreed with it.

“Let me remind the honorable Vice Mayor and the majority (in the city council) that their decision to declare Ramon Bautista ‘persona non grata’ is a city council resolution and not an ordinance. It does not bind me and everyone else who disagrees with it.

“The essence of a democracy is the right to dissent. As Voltaire would put it, ‘I may disagree by what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.’ For your education,” the elder Duterte said. (MB)