By ROGER M. BALANZA
Even as the planned duel between Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with the tandem of Speaker Prospero Nograles and retired police general Eduardo Matillano has yet to be realized, Nograles is ready to do battle with another: No less than communist leader Leoncio “ Parago” Pitao.
Nograles said he is ready to battle it out with the elusive leader of the New People’s Army First Pulang Bagani Command, but he is not going up to Paquibato, where Parago is known to hide, with an Armalite.
“I will not be terrorized. I will fight using my solid platform of government and my commitment to reform Davao City. This is my only weapon to defeat these terrorists and extortionists,” Nograles said in a report in the Mindanao Insider Daily.
As a first step to neutralize Parago, Nograles urged the Commission on Elections and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deploy more troops in rebel-infested areas.
Last week, communist rebels intercepted the campaigners of Nograles in Paquibato. They were told Nograles could campaign in the hinterland district only with authority from the NPA.
The rebels seized a vehicle of the campaigners owned by Nograles, but allowed the campaign workers to flee.
“The Comelec through the AFP should assert its presence in these areas to ensure clean, honest and peaceful elections in Davao City. The Comelec should not allow the NPAs to terrorize these communities and force them to submit only to their will, “ he told the local paper.
Nograles said the insurgency in the city has strengthened because Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is honeymooning with communist rebels.
Duterte’s alleged friendship with progressive personalities is a campaign pitch being waged by Nograles, who is running for mayor in May against Duteete’s daughter Vice Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. Three known leftist personalities from partylist groups—tagged by military as fronts of the communist movement—are in the council line-up of Duterte’s Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod.
Duterte, who is known to visit known NPA lairs to meet with rebel leaders to discuss peace, justifies his actions as back-door initiatives to prevent the rebels from sowing violence in the city.