DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 February) – Youth volunteers supporting presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo were harassed by an “intruder” who barged into the Davao for Leni Volunteers Center in Juna Subdivision, Matina after their “Caravan of Hope” on Wednesday.
In a statement the Youth for Leni-Davao City said a man in his 40s entered their office, asking the volunteers how the caravan organized by local supporters of Robredo and her running-mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan went.
The 15 volunteers, who stayed behind in the center after the parade to rest, mistook him for a Robredo-Pangilinan supporter and were shocked to hear him change his tone and go amok, speaking “violently and aggressively.”
“We express condemnation of this harassment incident committed by an intruder with deceitful intentions who verbally abused and harassed the Davao Youth for Leni volunteers on February 9, 2022. We condemn his threats and accusations that the Youth for Leni are misguided and must not be tolerated in Davao City. We will not allow such abusive and repulsive behavior committed against our volunteers,” the group said.
They said the man verbally abused and accused them of being “bayaran” or bribed, threatening them of more harassment since they are in Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The volunteers told the intruder that the “center is not the right place to address his concern because if he wanted to speak to the spokesperson of the activity he can go to the Robredo Peoples Council Volunteers Center which holds a separate office in the city.”
Youth supporters opened their volunteer center at Tulip Drive, Juna Subdivision, Matina last January 26.
The group snapped back at the intruder, asserting their right to free expression and to choose and vote for the kind of leaders, and their capacity to choose the best candidate.
“We insisted that he has no right to intrude and disrupt our volunteer center by his insults and harassment,” they said.
Presidential daughter and incumbent City Mayor Sara Duterte, is running as vice president alongside presidential aspirant, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the May 2022 elections.
The Duterte family has ruled the city for more than two decades.
Vice mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, a rookie politician who is the youngest son of President Duterte with ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, is running for mayor while incumbent Davao City’s 1st district representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte is seeking reelection.
The youth volunteers said Davao “is not owned by any one group or family and that Dabawenyos are respectful and are law-abiding people.”
“We believe that Davaoeños welcome ideas which may not always be aligned with those of others. Davao is home to diverse people with diverse beliefs. It is a place for radical love,” they said.
The youth volunteers said the man, who was logged as “Antonio Luna” and whose mobile number was written illegibly, was seen by the security personnel of the rented building “surveying” the place before entering it.
“Our youth leaders tried to calm him down but he continued with his verbal abuse with insults. Apparently, he was complaining about what came out during the news coverage of the motorcade activity in the morning that referred to Davao City for Leni Robredo,” the group said.
They said that the youth has always been at the forefront of changes in society although they are often underestimated and, as such, the youth “are a force to be reckoned with especially the youth from Davao City.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)