Senators mix birthday greetings for Duterte with praise, censure

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola and Mario Casayuran

Senators wished President Duterte “good health” as he celebrated his birthday Thursday, March 28.


“I wish the President success in providing jobs and opportunities for all Filipinos, and a healthy long life. Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson likewise asked for Duterte’s “better health”.

“Because we cannot afford na magkaroon ng destabilization on account of the death of a President. And of course siyempre buhay din yan. So sana maging healthy kung anong dinaramdam, magamot buong ano, from head to foot,” he said in press briefing.

“Pangalawa (Second), continue doing the good things and do away with the bad things,” the senator added.

On the President’s personal performance rating as ‘’passing grade,’’ Lacson thinks the President is ‘’just being modest.’’

‘’I think will give him one notch higher, kung sa kanya 5-6 ako 7-8,’’ he pointed out. (If he rated himself as 5-6, I rate him 7-8.)

Asked why in Thursday’s ‘’Kapihan sa Senado,’’ Lacson said it is the President’s strong political will that the government is now benefiting from the billions of pesos that flowed to the treasury because of out-of-court settlement of tax cases, among others, that should have lingered in the courts had it opted to fight it out.

“What is important behind these is the President’s political will,” he added.

Queried on what could be the weak spots of the President. Lacson replied: ‘’Sa akin na lang yun, kasi di lang mahina sobrang hina.’’ (I will keep that to myself. In areas where he is weak, he is really very weak.)

Sen. Sonny Angara also “wish him good health and happiness and more time with his family.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, referred to a Bible verse in conveying his prayers for the President.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well,” read 3 John 2, which Villanueva had cited.

Sen. Grace Poe, for her part, wished that Duterte would be able rest on his birthday.

“Gusto kong matupad ‘yong mga pangarap niya at gusto niya, tulad ng makatulog siya nang mabuti ngayong araw na ito. I think everybody deserves a break. So I wish him his much-deserved rest,” Poe said in an interview Thursday.

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima, meanwhile, wished for Duterte’s enlightenment.

“Enlightenment. True and profound enlightenment. Happy birthday po,” the detained lawmaker said in a chance interview after a trial held in the Muntinlupa City Wednesday.

But de Lima called President Duterte as the “biggest crisis” that has befallen the country as she renewed her call for him to step down due to his oft-repeated empty claims of being exhausted for fighting criminality in the country.

De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration’s all-out war on drugs, said that the Filipino people have had enough of Duterte’s dramatics and empty rhetorics that only seek to cover up for his obvious incompetence and lack of governance.

In one of her recent ambush interviews, the former justice secretary also called out on Duterte for causing so much damage to the country by plunging it into crisis after crisis, the gravest of which is the human rights crisis that killed thousands of individuals.

“Crisis after crisis. Puro na lang perwisyo!,” she quipped.

Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, president of the pro-administration PDP-Laban party, said the Duterte administration should be given a passing grade. Duterte is a PDP-Laban party member.

‘’Sobrang sobra ang reasons why,’’ Pimentel pointed out. (There are so many reasons why.)

Pimentel listed the good points of the President. These are:

-The fulfillment of campaign promises like free tuition, free irrigation, lower personal income taxes, 10-yr passport, five-year drivers license, increase in base pay of Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), universal health care, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and many more.

-He solved long standing issues through sheer political will: smuggling of cigarettes solved (suspect firm paid P40 billion), settlement of the Mile-Long property which went back to the national government, unpaid landing fees collected (P6 billion), among others.

-He crafted an independent foreign policy: The Philippines is now friends with more than just the US and western powers, China and Russia are our friends now. Japan has become friendlier too. And the Balangiga bells have returned finally!

The Chief Executive turned 74 on Thursday. He wished that the Philippines “continue to progress and prosper.”