Sotto describes 'joking' as part of the culture of local politics

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The public should not take President Duterte's "jokes" seriously as they are only part of the culture in local politics, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

A "neutral" Sotto on Thursday shrugged off the Chief Executive's recent statements about kidnapping and torturing officials of the Commission on Audit (COA) for supposedly delaying the implementation of government projects.

Senator Vicente Sotto III (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Vicente Sotto III (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sotto said Duterte, who was Davao City mayor for more than two decades, may have blurted out the remarks from his experience in local governance.

"Ako kasi ang thinking ko kaya iba ang pananaw ko sa ganyan -- I will not agree I will not disagree, neutral ako kasi nanggaling ako sa local , eh. You must remember the President was a mayor for a long, long time. Doon sa amin sa local politics at sa local governance may kasama talagang ganoon," said Sotto, who once served as Quezon City vice mayor.

Sotto said the President's body language was "obvious" even if he did not say he was joking. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo had said that Duterte's remarks was only a hyperbole and made in jest to express his frustration at COA.

While he does not blame the "conservatives" for their negative reactions, Sotto maintained that Duterte was not threatening and should not be blamed for the unfortunate incidents involving state auditors.

"That won't happen. If ever such happens, it (motive) would be personal," he said.