By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Top Malacañang officials have played the “he’s not serious” and “he’s a Bisaya” cards in defending President Duterte in his supposed “admission” about his role behind the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country.
Duterte, in a speech in Malacañang Thursday, said that his critics cannot tie him to corruption as his only sin are the supposed EJKs being linked to him ever since he was still mayor of Davao City.
“I will talk to a political exercise now. What are your sins? Ako (Me)? Sabi ko nga sa military, ano kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako dyan ni piso (I asked the military what is my sin? Did I steal even a single peso)? Did I prosecute na pinakulong ko (then send someone to prison)? Ang kasalanan ko lang, ‘yung mga (My only sin are the) extrajudicial killings,” he said.
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that he doesn’t think the President was serious when he made the remark, and that he believes the context of the statement was not supposed to be taken literally.
“Well, alam mo naman si Presidente, ano. Hindi na naman iyan seryoso (You know the President. That’s not serious),” he said Friday morning. “I don’t think na ang konteksto niyan ay literal (I don’t think that it has a literal meaning).”
“That’s the President po being himself, being playful, being… highlighting the point na hindi siya corrupt (that he’s not corrupt),” he added.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, believes that some people still do not get Duterte’s Visayan humor.
“Ang ibig niyang sabihin, ‘ang isyu lang laban sa akin ay extrajudicial killings,’ iyon ang ibig sabihin nun. Alam mo, Bisaya si Presidente. (What he meant was the only issue against him are the EJKs. You know, the President is a Bisaya),” he said in a radio interview Friday morning.
“Kaya kapag sinabi niyang ang kasalanan ko lang ay extrajudicial killing, ibig sabihin, ang isyu lang sa akin bilang Presidente ay extrajudicial killing. Iyon ang ibig sabihin noon. (So what he said that, it means that the only issue linked to him as President are the EJKs),” he added.
Panelo also gave tips on how to digest Duterte’s statements so one can fully grasp the context of his speeches.
“Dapat kasi kapag sasabihin ng Presidente, titingnan mo iyong mga previous statements niya. Kailangan consistent doon sa dati na niyang sinasabi. (You should always look or refer to his previous statements when you are listening to him. It should be consistent with what he said before),” he said
However, both Roque and Panelo agreed that Duterte was only trying to emphasize that while EJKs may be linked to him, the President is not one corrupt government official.
“It’s also na dinidiin lang niya na talagang hindi siya nagnanakaw. (He’s just pointing out that he does not steal from the government),” Roque said,
Duterte’s spokesperson also said that the President’s statement is not an admission or a remark that may incriminate him.
“In the first place, hindi naman iyan isang sinumpaang salaysay ‘no, so paano sasabihing self-incriminating iyan? (it’s not a sworn statement so it cannot be self-incriminating),” Roque said.