Panelo launches TV show to defend Duterte from critics

Published May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo is back at the podium of the Malacañang press briefing room defending President Duterte from blistering criticisms from some people.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Two weeks after he relinquished his Presidential Spokesperson duties, Panelo launched on Friday a live commentary program titled “Counterpoint,” that was aired on state-owned People’s Television network. The 18-minute program was also carried live on the government’s social media pages.

Appearing on television in his plaid suit and face mask, Panelo said he intends to respond to concerns raised by critics “without emotion and exaggeration” so the public will be guided.

“This program is geared in discussing the issues affecting our country. We will analyze, dissect issues raised by certain critics and others against certain policies of the government, as well as official acts and or demeanor of some of our government officials,” he said at the start of the program.

“We will dispassionately and objectively, without emotion or exaggeration, [discuss] these people’s concerns so that these issues will be crystalized and all of us will be guided accordingly,” he added.

In the maiden episode of his program, Panelo hit back at the President’s critics who are supposedly never content with the government’s actions.

“There are certain personalities in our country today, they are bent on criticizing the government, and they appear not to be content and not happy with everything or anything that this government does,” he said.

Panelo particularly took aim at a newspaper columnist critical of the President’s handling of the coronavirus emergency as well as his penchant for late night public addresses when most people are already asleep.

He defended that the President has not been remiss in his duty to protect the people from the coronavirus outbreak.

He said Duterte was one of the world leaders who declared an early lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease. If the lockdown measures were not put in place, he said there could have been more deaths and infections in the country.

“Nagiging epektibo ‘yung ginawang lockdown ni Presidente at hindi po maaaring sabihin na naging pabaya si Presidente. Lahat po ay ginawa niya pati yung tinatawag nating massive, mabilisang pag-test,” he said.
(The lockdown declared by the President has been effective and it cannot be said that the President has been remiss. He did everything, including the massive rapid testing.)

Panelo also found nothing wrong with the President’s late night public addresses about the coronavirus situation, saying people can watch them the next day anyway.

He also said the time of the President’s public remarks depends if he is ready with the facts he will present to the nation. Duterte usually holds meetings with several Cabinet members, who are also members of the government task force supervising the coronavirus response, before he updates the nation about government actions to address the public health emergency.

Panelo also explained that the President has a different body time clock from other people, saying Duterte starts work past lunch until 7 a.m. the next day.

“Unawain natin na ang Presidente ay ganito magtrabaho. Sa gabi po siya nagtatrabaho, at sa araw siya natutulog. At ‘yan ang ginagawa niya mula pa noong alkalde [siya] ng Davao,” he said.
(Let’s try to understand that this is how the President works. He works at night, he sleeps during the day. He has been doing this since he was mayor of Davao City.)

In mid-April, Panelo was suddenly replaced by former Cabinet member Harry Roque as the President’s spokesperson.

The President appointed Roque to his old post in the Cabinet in the middle of the government’s coronavirus response. As Roque made a comeback to the Palace communication team, Panelo stayed on as the President’s legal counsel.

The Palace recently designated Roque to lead the government’s information dissemination about the coronavirus response.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles stepped back as the spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) as Roque took over the communication duties. Nograles previously held daily virtual press briefings on IATF decisions.