Jun Palas Ghost Still Haunts Duterte

Apr. 26, 2007

Ah, patay na diay? Kanus-a? Kinsa nagpatay? (Ah, he is dead? Since when? Who killed him?) the Davao City mayor mockingly asked a crowd in Bankerohan during a campaign rally this week.

By Germelina A. Lacorte

DAVAO CITY — Slain anti-communist broadcaster Juan Jun Porras Pala Jr. must be turning in his grave.

In a political rally held in Bankerohan toward midnight early this week, Davaos tough-talking mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, lashed out at Pala, a famously outspoken broadcaster who endlessly criticized Duterte on the air.

Ah, patay na diay? Kanus-a? (Ah, he is dead? Since when?) Duterte mockingly asked the crowd, referring to Pala. Pala was killed in 2003 on his way home after playing cards with his neighbors. His case is one of the many cases of slain journalists, mostly radio broadcasters, whose killing remain unsolved. To learn more about Pala’s case, click here (PDF).

Kinsa nagpatay? (Who killed him?) Duterte, his mocking tone unchanged, told the Bankerohan crowd, as a weak strain of laughter eerily floated in the orange glow of the streetlamps late in the night. Duterte was suspected of being behind Palas murder but no charges were ever filed against the mayor.

Duterte was trying to justify his choice of running mate in his 28-year-old daughter, Sara, a lawyer, when he launched the diatribe against Pala. (See related story.) He said he was forced to let his daughter run to protect the city against former protg turned political rival Benjamin de Guzman, whom he described as corrupt and who, in the past, allegedly launched personal attacks against Duterte and his family.

Known for his strong stance against drugs and criminals, Duterte said Pala had been de Guzmans mouthpiece, whose attacks against him on the air had gone below the belt.

Duterte has been known to show some degree of tolerance toward the media, as long as they keep their hands off my personal life, he once warned.

Pala, an anti-communist crusader who also ran for mayor when Duterte first sought the post in 1988, had once supported Duterte. Duterte had also been in good terms with Pala before politics turned their friendship sour.

All I wanted from them was to answer the issues, Duterte said, referring to the questions raised by his group on the 150-million-peso Artica dome here during the 2001 elections. That issue marked his parting of ways with De Guzman.

But they turned dirty, he said, adding that Pala was used by his opponents against him.

They attacked me on the air, insinuating that my wife was involved with another man, that my daughter went to the US for an abortion and, later, that my daughter was not my own, said the mayor who was running practically unopposed in the city. De Guzman, who used to be the vice mayor of Duterte, first expressed a desire to run for vice mayor before Duterte made public his decision to pick his own daughter as his running mate. Instead, de Guzman is now running for Congress.

Davao reporters quoted de Guzman as saying he was supporting Dutertes campaign and that he regarded Sara as his own daughter. De Guzman also denied Dutertes allegation that half of the 150 million pesos supposed to be used for the construction of the Artica dome in Mintal vanished into thin air. (Germelina A. Lacorte/davaotoday.com)

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