By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV shrugged off the decision of the Davao City council declaring him “persona non grata” in the bailiwick of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Local officials on Tuesday passed a resolution declaring Trillanes persona non grata, or an unwelcomed person, in Davao City over his remarks that the city is “the most dangerous city in the Philippines.”
But the opposition senator, in response to the declaration, maintained that he only told the “truth,” citing supposed data from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The truth really hurts. My statement was based on the December 2015 statistics of the PNP that Davao has the highest incidence of murder and second highest in rape,” Trillanes said in a statement.
“The people of Davao either know it but tolerate it out of fear or they’ve actually believed the lie that was fed to them that Davao City is the safest city in the world,” he added.
Davao City Vice Mayor Bernard Al-ag, who pushed for the passage of resolution, said their people were angered by Trillanes’ statements.
In an interview with Senate media later, Trillanes said he respects the “right” of the Davao City officials over local laws, but maintained that he was only “expressing what Davaoenos cannot express out of fear.”
He added that he “refuses to believe” that residents were offended by his pronouncements.
Trillanes then claimed that the Duterte family was behind the declaration, saying the City council was their “rubber stamp.”
Explaining his statement, Trillanes said he sought to expose Duterte’s “lie” during the 2016 campaign that Davao City is the safest place.
He said he does not aim to destroy the city and its people, but “definitely help them.”
Trillanes made the remark during a recent forum with the Filipino community in Chicago as he slammed Duterte for supposedly taking the credit behind the “transformation” of Davao City, where he served for more than 20 years. The forum was recorded and shared by various pages in social media.
“Grabe ang traffic, grabe ang urban poor, pati ang basura hindi maayos na makolekta (Traffic is worse, urban poverty is worse, even garbage cannot be collecte properly) — it’s a typical Filipino city,” Trillanes said, referring to Davao City.
“Ngayon, hinawakan niya ito (Duterte handled it) for more than 20 years. Palagay ko kahit sino sa room na ito ang bigyan ng pagkakataon na mamuno ng isang syudad (I think anyone in this room who is given the chance to lead a city) for more than 20 years will do better. Definitely and without killing people,” he told members of the Filipino community in Chicago.
He then dismissed as “wrong” the “peaceful” situation in Davao City, citing the PNP’s 2015 data.
“In fact, based on the statistics, Davao City is the the most dangerous city in the Philippines,” Trillanes continued, adding that residents were “so brainwashed” into believing that the city is the safest city “not only in the country, but in the world.”
Trillanes said he also expressed similar statements in other forums held in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, DC.
The opposition senator had also made the same comment during a press briefing in the Senate last year.
The Davao City Council had previously declared a number of personalities persona non grata for making offensive remarks about the city, including comedian Ramon Bautista, who in 2014, joked that women there were “hipon” (shrimp), a derogatory term to describe an unattractive person with a sexually appealing body; and retired General Jovito Palparan, who called the city a breeding ground for communist insurgents in 2010.
Trillanes said he was in the United States to attend the National Prayer Breakfast hosted by the US Congress with President Donald Trump as guest of honor.
He said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was also invited in the same event, but did not have the chance to talk to him.
Trillanes said he also met various groups and had speaking engagements in his two-week trip in the US.