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His continued rise in popularity has placed presidential frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a defensive stance as he and his headquarters have become busy dodging criticisms and smear attacks instead of campaigning to ensure his victory on Monday’s polls.
Attacked from all sides of the mass media, Duterte’s camp has busied up issuing press statements belying allegations of wrongdoing and in attempting to counter-attack alleged black propagandists hired by rivals.
Yesterday, Duterte dismissed as petty criticism a claim by opponents that he has no foreign relations agenda.
Duterte campaign spokesman Peter Lavina He said as early as December, Duterte had already made public his “Focus Five” agenda and has on many occasions discussed issues related to foreign affairs.
Laviña said No. 4 in Duterte’s Focus Five is a call for an end to internal conflict in our country so we can all unite to confront external threats such as violent extremism or terrorism and the island grabbing by China.
Campaign manager Leoncio Evasco Jr. has also decried the alleged release by the camp of administration bet Mar Roxas of a bogus poll survey report putting Malacañang’s candidate on top of the five-man race.
This, despite the release of a Pulse Asia poll survey indicating Roxas at an statistical tie with Partido Galing at Puso standard bearer Sen. Grace Poe. The two are at least 11 percent below the survey grade of Duterte, which experts believe would be difficult to top.
Meanwhile, vice presidential candidate Sen. Antonio Trillanes has again showed up before the media, this time accusing Duterte of hiring at least 11,000 ghost employes in 2014 as Davao City mayor.
Chiding Trillanes as a “congenital liar”, the PDP-Laban party, which Duterte heads as chairman, said the city mayor “has better things to do than to dignify the unfounded allegations” of the senator.
“This is an old issue that Mayor Duterte has already explained as without any basis. The city government hired various employees and assigned them to different agencies for a certain period of time. They were contractual employees that the city government accommodated to give them temporary employment,” said party spokesperson Paola Alvarez. (BEN ROSARIO)