CABANATUAN, Nueva Ecija – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte jolted parts of Nueva Ecija Tuesday in a whirlwind visit that left many gasping for more.
The popular presidential candidate spoke first before an audience of doctors and health personnel during the 19th founding anniversary of the Premiere Medical Center (PMC) in Cabanatuan.
Hospital personnel and relatives of patients who filled the lobby at the hospital after getting wind of Duterte’s arrival clapped and cheered when he walked in.
The mayor was introduced by Dr. Reynaldo Yang, PMC president and a family friend.
After the introduction, Duterte asked the people to sit down, a habit he has nurture throughout his career in Davao.
“Whatever happens depends on the people,” Duterte said in a mixture of English and Tagalog in referring to the fate of his candidacy.
Duterte was subdued compared to his other speeches, and even started on a conciliatory note.
“I never really intended to insult the pope,” Duterte told his audience at the PMC function, reiterating his apology over the controversial incident which was met by applause.
Prior to Duterte’s arrival, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano explained the tandem’s platform and fielded questions from the audience.
Duterte descended to the second event behind the hospital’s cancer center where enthusiastic supporters coming from as far as Tarlac had converged as early as three hours earlier.
From Cabanatuan, Duterte flew by chopper to San Leonardo where he hosted by Gen. Tinio Mayor Virgilio Bote.
Among the animated crowd which seemed to have pumped up Duterte were six mayors and 12 vice-mayors.
It was vintage Duterte, humorous, irreverent and combative.
The crowd loved it, clapping lustily when he cursed criminals and crooks in government.
Duterte had to be reminded by aides that he had another appointment waiting in Manila before he called it a day in San Leonardo.
“If you can’t solve the crime and corruption problems confronting the country, you have no business running for president,” the mayor said to no one in particular.
The people, however, liked what they heard and shouted their approval.
Indeed, it is a question that all of his opponents would have to answer.
It is too early to tell if the visit was enough for him to win in Nueva Ecija.
There is no doubt, however, that it was enough to jolt the people enough to consider him for the presidency. (CHITO A. FUENTES)
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