Cayetano on Escudero, Duterte critics: 'They're so scared'

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Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s vice presidential running mate, fired back at Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero. He stressed that those who are maligning the mayor’s decision to run for president are afraid of losing to him in the 2016 presidential election.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Vice presidential aspirant Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano slammed the detractors of his running mate, Rodrigo Duterte, for criticizing the Davao mayor's reason for joining the 2016 presidential race.

Cayetano stressed that those who are maligning Duterte's decision to run for president are afraid of losing to him in the 2016 presidential election.

"Takot na takot na sila. Parating na ang tunay na pagbabago," Cayetano said.

[Translation: "They're so scared.  Real change is coming."]

The senator was reacting to recent statements issued by Sen. Grace Poe’s running mate Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who claimed that Duterte was merely using Poe’s disqualification case as an excuse to run.

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Klaro sa amin ni Mayor Duterte na hindi pwedeng tumakbong presidente ang isang hindi natural born citizen. Tama po ba na ang isang nanumpa sa Amerika, babalik dito, gusto maging Pangulo? Hindi pwedeng palampasin ito. Lalong hindi ito drama," Cayetano said.

[Translation: "It’s very clear to me and to Mayor Duterte that someone who is not a natural-born citizen can't run for president. Is it appropriate that someone who acquired American citizenship will go back and aim for the presidency? We cannot let this pass. This is not a drama."]

"Kung gusto ninyo ng drama at pagkukunwari, nandyan ang Poe-Escudero. Kung gusto ninyo ng matapang na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon, nandito po ang Duterte-Cayetano. Basta kami, we will not cheapen the presidency," Cayetano added.

[Translation: "If you want drama, a phony, then the Poe-Escudero tandem is there. If you want fearless solutions and quick action, then Duterte-Cayetano tandem is here. One thing’s sure, we will not cheapen the presidency.]

Cayetano said Poe should answer directly the issues raised against her instead of hiding behind Escudero's back.

Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, also hit back at Escudero.

In a statement posted on his official Facebook account, the vice mayor said: "Escudero, who is a lawyer himself, knows all too well that Grace Poe cannot be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen and does not satisfy the residency requirement yet he persistently pushes her to the presidential race. Who's now using who?"

Escudero: Respect SET's Constitutional integrity

By criticizing the SET’s decision, Escudero said their political opponents — many of whom are also lawyers — were assaulting the integrity of a constitutional body mandated to be the “sole judge” of all contests on the qualification of senators.

Bilang abogado rin, nais ko rin galangin at ipaglaban ang Saligang Batas. Nagkataon lang siguro na magkaiba kami ng pananaw at interpretasyon kaugnay ng Saligang Batas at pagiging natural-born ni Senator Grace,” he said.

[Translation: "As a lawyer, I also want to respect and to fight for the Constitution. It just so happens that we have different points of view and interpretation on the Constitution and on Sen. Grace Poe's status as a natural-born citizen."]

Escudero reiterated that he respected the views of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, but he urged the tough-talking mayor not to belittle those who did not share his views.

Hindi naman siguro dahilan iyon para maliitin o paratangan ako o si Senator Grace o sinuman, dahil lamang magkaiba kami ng pananaw,” explained Escudero, urging critics to respect SET's constitutional integrity.

[Translation: "It's not right to belittle or accuse me or Senator Grace or whoever, just because we have a different opinion."]

The younger Duterte had accused Escudero of "using" Poe. On the other hand, Escudero asked the mayor not to "use Poe as an excuse" to aim for the highest post of the land.

"Kung may nanggagamit, may nagpapagamit palagi," Escudero said in a statement released on Tuesday.

[Translation: "If someone's using anyone, it's always because another one allows it."]

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At hindi naman porke’t babae o baguhan sa pulitika si Senator Grace, mayroon dapat nasa likod niya o mayroon nagdidikta sa kanya,” Escudero added.

[Translation: "Just because Senator Grace is a woman or a rookie in politics doesn't mean there should be someone dictating to her."]

Escudero said the fact that Poe had been given a birth certificate and passport, was legally adopted, and later allowed to run for and serve as a senator, means that she's a Filipino and qualified to be a public servant.