DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Feb) – The City Council here has declared opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV persona non grata on Tuesday for allegedly spreading “fake news” about Davao City as the most dangerous place in the Philippines during a forum in Chicago.
During a regular session, Vice Mayor Bernard E. Al-ag said he took offense to the pronouncements of Trillanes, a staunch critic of the President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who said in a forum attended by Filipino migrants in the United States that the city is “number 1 in murder, number 2 in rape and Davao City is the most dangerous city in the Philippines.”
Also declared persona non grata was Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Filipino-born American businesswoman and philanthropist who is known to be a Duterte critic. The President has tagged Lewis as behind the decision of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation on Duterte for supposedly committing cimes against humanity. Lewis has denied the accusation.
“This statement is offensive, malicious and pure lies. In short, this statement is not true. This is fake news,” Al-ag said.
He also lambasted the opposition senator for comparing Dabawenyos with North Koreans who have been “brainwashed” into believing that the city is the safest in the world.
In a viral video shared by Duterte supporters on social media, Trillanes said he based his claims on crime statistics of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2015.
“Pero yung mga taga-Davao (but the people of Davao) were so brainwashed into believing that Davao City is the safest city not only in the Philippines but in the world. Para silang mga North Koreans (they are just like North Koreans). That’s the thing here,” he said.
He said General Santos City is even better than Davao – more peaceful and orderly with urban planning.
Al-ag countered by saying that the city has been repeatedly awarded with the seal of good local governance by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and received a cash reward worth P5 million, based on three assessment areas – peace and order, business friendliness, and competitiveness and environmental management.
He said the PNP is under the jurisdiction of the DILG.
“Declaring that my city is the most dangerous city in the Philippines is not acceptable. This is an insult to the 1.6 million Dabawenyos who are working hard everyday to make our city safe,” Al-ag added.
Al-ag, who replaced presidential son Paolo “Pulong” Duterte when the latter resigned as vice mayor on December 15, 2017, challenged attendees to a forum in Chicago to visit the city and offered to refund their travel expenses if they feel an “iota of danger,” if they “feel and think Davao is a city of murderers and rapists as what Mr. Trillanes declared.”
“Try riding our taxis, our jeepneys… try walking our streets in the middle of the night, try eating in our restaurants and carenderias, try going to our police stations,” he said.
Al-ag said Trillanes is more dangerous because his words “impede the ability of every word Filipino to love his country” and his action “destroys a community.”
“Let us not forget how he destroyed Oakwood Hotel in 2003 and The Manila Peninsula in 2007. Now you want to destroy my city? No way! You want to destroy my people? No way,” he added.
Duterte was mayor of Davao from 1988 to 1998, representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001 and mayor again from 2001 to 2010. He served as vice mayor to his daughter-mayor from 2010 to 2013 and mayor again from 2013 until he was elected President in 2016. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)