Gubernatorial bet Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap stood by the authenticity of the photos of him and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte which he used for his campaign posters amid allegations that the images were manipulated.
Yap clarified that there were two occasions that he had pictures with Duterte raising his hand—one was during a celebration of his birthday on November 10 last year, and the second was during a private dinner on February 26, 2019.
“Daghan ang mga witnesses. Naa man kanako ang mga ebidensya. Many congressmen were there sa akong birthday. So, gi-isa akong kamot ni Ma’am Sara. And, then ang ikaduha nga okasyon, in a private dinner. That was on February 26,” Yap said.
According to Yap, the use of the images in his campaign posters was permitted by the Presidential daughter.
“We stand by the legitimacy of our published materials. And naay permiso gikan sa mga tawo nga part of the materials nga ipapubliko nato ang mga materials. Dili kita ang grupo nga nagpagawas sa fake. Mao nga kita,we only use legitimate, original, genuine news,” he said.
Yap issued the statement after Duterte reiterated her support for the former’s rival, resigned Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. through a video message.
Duterte urged Boholanos to vote for Evasco but did not call out Yap for the use of the photos nor asked the last-term congressman to take down the said posters.
However, Yap was unperturbed by the development.
“Demokrasya man ta diri sa Pilipinas. We are free to run in the elections, we are free to be chosen, we are free to be endorsed,” Yap said.
Yap also bared his closeness with Duterte, both in official and personal capacities.
“We have very big respect for ma’am Inday Sara. Yes, our relationship is both official and personal. Very broad ang iyang grupo sa politika. Very broad man ang coalition sa iyang grupo. Pareha sa Pundok Padayon Bol-anon. Ang Pundok Padayon Bol-anon pod dinhi sa Bohol, wide coalition mi. There are members of different parties inside Pundok Padayon Bol-anon ug ang mga grupo ni Ma’am Inday Sara, ana pod, broad coalition,” he added.
Yap described his relationship with the Dutertes, including Sara and President Duterte, as “quite deep” as he noted the history between the father-daughter political powerhouse and former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Yap’s close ally.
The younger Duterte has long been seen to be behind the ouster of Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker and his replacement by Arroyo.
“The relationship between Speaker GMA and President Duterte is very deep. Dugay mi nag-uban. Nag-abot pa mi sa Cabinet ni Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at that time when I was with the cabinet as well. And then karon, full support si Ma’am Sara ni Speaker GMA. Sa tinuod ra, kahibaw man ang tanan nga sya ang naglihok sa tanan for the candidacy of GMA mahimong Speaker. We worked on many projects together. Mao nga lawm lawm ang relasyon and taas-taas ang respeto sa usa’g usa,” Yap said.
Both Yap and Evasco have been considered to be two of the leading gubernatorial candidates for the May 13 polls. Camps of both bets have been at loggerheads even before the official campaign period for local candidates which started on March 29 and has been heavily marred by the so-called fake news.
Amid persistent mudslinging among candidates, Yap assured that his coalition, Pundok Padayon Bol-anon, has not engaged in the spread of fake news and tampered images.
“I assure you, akong ihatag ang akong kasegurohan ninyong tanan nga kita sa Pundok Padayon Bol-anon, ako pod, wa tay tradisyon nga ang atong style nga mag-fake news, mag-illegitimate news ta. Kanunay ang atong mga gipagawas nga mga news kabahin sa atong grupo, kabahin sa atong mga kandidato, sa atong mga buhat, everything is legitimate and original,” Yap said.