By Argyll Geducos
Malacañang expressed support for Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista, reminding the public that everyone, not just Cabinet members, should be respected.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo lost his cool and cursed Bautista for not picking up his phone for an interview in his radio program aired over state-run Radyo Pilipinas last week.
“We are supporting General Bautista. Walang problema doon (There’s no issue with that), we are supporting him,” Panelo said in his Monday press briefing.
“Respect should be given to everyone and it should also be earned,” he added.
In his program last week, Tulfo attacked Bautista for failing to grant his request for an interview.
While calling Bautista crazy, he also threatened to slap him and make him kiss the toilet.
Tulfo had twice apologized for his behavior, the second time after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the recall of the security detail granted to Tulfo and his relatives.
According to Panelo, the public should now let the issue rest since Tulfo was “gentleman enough” to apologize.
He, however, said it is up to Tulfo whether he will stick to his scathing remarks when doing his program.
“Mr. Tulfo has his reasons for doing what he did. He apologized for it and I think we should accept the apology. He was gentleman enough to apologize,” he said.
“Only Mr. Tulfo can respond to whether he’s going to make a repetition of the same. But definitely, General Bautista, as his supporters describe him, is a man of probity and of good repute,” he added.
“I think we should also commend him for expressing an apology. Eh kumbaga, itigil na natin ‘yon (For me, I think we should leave it at that),” he continued, noting that Tulfo’s apology is already a sign of the broadcaster’s regret.
But Panelo said he understands where the sentiment of some Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates are coming from.
“Well, you cannot stop them also to express their outrage, that’s the right of any individual or group,” he said.
“As far as they’re concerned, yes [their outrage is well-founded]. That’s their right. They feel that their fellow member has been gravely offended, and they rose to the defense,” he added.
The Palace official then said he is leaving it to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to probe the incident since he oversees the operations of State-run media, noting that not even President Duterte will interfere on the matter.
“I’ll leave it to the department secretary what he will do,” Panelo said.
“I do not want to preempt whatever the head of the department would look at that incident,” he added when asked if what Tulfo did was unethical since his program is airing on state-run media.
Meanwhile, Panelo said that it is up to every Cabinet member how they will grant media interviews.
“It depends on every Cabinet member. The schedule of the Cabinet member may be such so tight that it has to follow a certain procedure,” he said.
“Siguro baka naman masyadong serious yung topic ng interview (Perhaps the topic of the interview was so serious that) he had to prepare for that. Mahirap din naman yung basta susuong sa interview na hindi mo alam (It’s difficult when you grant an interview without knowing anything),” he added.
However, the Palace official assured that every Cabinet member is accessible and responds to every query immediately if they are not busy.