Philippine Daily Inquirer

Seniors’ group, PWDs find Duterte not funny

- Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

THE COUNTRY’S largest group of senior citizens decried Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s “cruel, callous remarks” about sickly senior citizens.

Lawyer Godofredo Arquiza, national president and chair of the Senior Citizens Party List, said Duterte’s latest remarks about persons with disabiliti­es (PWDs) showed that “he does not respect anyone, perhaps not even the presidency for which he is aspiring for.”

Arquiza said Duterte’s low regard for senior citizens and those who were sick prompted the group to throw its full support behind Sen. Grace Poe, the mayor’s closest rival in the May 2016 elections.

“This should be an eye opener for all of us Filipinos,” Arquiza said in a statement.

Arquiza said his group, which he claimed represente­d 15 million senior citizens, were willing to act as poll observers and watchers in each of the 42,025 barangay to help Poe win.

“Duterte may be a fellow senior citizen, but he has not gained any wisdom befitting his age,” said Arquiza.

Arquiza served as senior citizens representa­tive during the 14th and 15th Congress but is now running for senator.


Arquiza said senior citizens would also help campaign for Poe by distributi­ng her campaign materials.

“We are certain we could give Senator Poe swing votes from the senior citizens sector,” he said.

In Iloilo City, a group of disabled persons also reacted sharply to Duterte’s joke about PWDs.

Louie Posa, founder of the Associatio­n of Disabled Persons-Iloilo Inc. (Adpi), said Duterte’s jokes during a campaign speech in the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan were “hurting and depriving” to PWDs.

“He should understand our condition instead of looking down on us,” said Posa, who suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 1986. He was bed-ridden for four years and still has difficulty walking until now.

The Adpi has about 150 members.

Plaza scenes

In his speech, Duterte described the plaza of Davao City as one of the most beautiful in the country.

He said that upon the request of PWDs, he provided wheelchair­s at the plaza and designated attendants, two nurses and a doctor to take care of elderly and PWDs visiting the plaza.

When he inspected the plaza, the mayor said he observed the PWDs, one of whom was his classmate who was suffering from disability due to a stroke.

“I wanted to tell him to just kill himself,” Duterte said in jest, even suggesting that his classmate could use a barber’s shaving razor to cut his throat.

Duterte said the attendant of one elderly PWD helped turn the person’s head so he could continue gazing at women joggers.

Not funny

“Some would get angry but this is just the truth. I was just narrating,” Duterte said.

But Posa said what Duterte said was “not funny at all.”

“So what if we look admiringly at women? Despite our physical disabiliti­es, we still have feelings as any other person,” Posa said.

He said making fun of PWDs was a “wrong example for a person aspiring to be president.”

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