By Hannah Torregoza
Former Daanbantayan Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot should think about his physical security 24/7, whether or not President Rodrigo Duterte was joking or not when he remarked that he ordered the alleged drug lord ambushed, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said on Wednesday.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, gave this unsolicited advice after the President admitted, in a speech, that he ordered the ambush of the former mayor whom he tagged as a protector in the illegal drug trade.
“Loot, p… mo, nanalo pa na mayor. Inambush kita, animal ka, buhay pa rin!” he said.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, clarified that the President’s non-proficiency in the Tagalog vernacular made his remark confusing.
“Hindi niya inamin. Kung papakinggan mo yung salita niya, ang sinabi niya, ‘in-ambush kita. But don’t forget that the President is Bisaya. Ang ibig niyang sabihin in-ambush ka na, buhay ka pa,” Panelo pointed out.
“Well, you should ask him first if he was joking or serious when he said that,” Lacson said in a text message.
“Midway into his term, we should already be familiar with his penchant for saying something as serious as that and dismissing it as a joke afterwards,” the senator added.
“Joke or not, Mayor Loot would be better off minding his physical security 24/7,” he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that if there was a Google Translator, Duterte’s translator would be Secretary Panelo who always had a different translation of everything the President says.
“Kung may Google Translator, may Duterte translator din. Yan si Sec Panelo. Kapag sinabi ng Pangulo ang kulay ay pula, kay Sec Panelo, ito ay itim (If there’s Google Translator, there is also a Duterte translator, and that is Secretary Panelo. If the President says the color is red, Secretary Panelo will say it’s black),” Hontiveros pointed out.
“Kapag nambastos ng kababaihan ang Pangulo, joke lang ito kay Sec. Panelo. Kapag umamin ng pagpatay ang Pangulo, slip of the tongue lang ito kay Sec. Panelo (If the President disrespects women, Sec. Panelo will just say it’s a joke. If the President admits he killed, Sec. Panelo will just say it’s a slip of the tongue,” she said.
“Pero may ‘lost in translation’ diyan, ang lost ay ang katotohanan (But if there’s one that is lost in translation, the one that is lost is the truth),” Hontiveros said.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go for his part, downplayed the President’s statements, saying that the public should now be familiar on how he speaks.
“In the first place, why would he admit he launched the ambush? That’s only a joke,” Go told reporters in an interview.
“But it is also a warning to all people, whoever enters into drugs, whether they are governors or mayor, as long as you enter into drugs, at your own risk, there is always a risk,” he said.
“I’ve known the president for 21 years, so whether or not he is saying the real thing or not, those he says in his speeches, his body language, it may be true or not true. So just be careful,” he stressed.
Senator Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos, for her part, said she didn’t find the President’s pronouncement on Loot as funny.
“Hinimatay ako nung narinig ko parang di naman yata totoo yun, grabe yun. Parang hindi naman nakakatuwa,” Marcos said.
Nevertheless, Marcos said she believed the President made the remark for a purpose.
“The President is a very good lawyer, a veteran prosecutor. I think his statements are always purposeful,” she stressed.