Alvarez denies insinuating that President Duterte has ‘no brains’

Published September 22, 2020, 7:53 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez said he didn’t insinuate that President Duterte didn’t have the smarts needed for his post when he told his constituents to vote for “someone with brains” in the 2022 national polls.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Alvarez, the President”s party-mate and longtime friend, made this clarification in an interview after his election advice for Davao del Norte residents hit national headlines.

“Hindi (ko yun ini-insinuate). Matalino nga si Pangulo eh. At saka hindi naman nagtatapang-tapangan, alam natin matapang talaga (I wasn’t insinuating that). The President is actually smart. And he doesn’t feign courage. We all know he is really courageous),” he said.

In an August 28, 2020 interview aired over his radio program CPDA Aksyon Agad!, the former Speaker told his constituents in Cebuano, “Una, kining kinahanglan mupili ta Presidente nga kahibalo muhandle imong covid. Kanang Presidente nga utok, utok, di lang paisog-isog.” He also gestured by tapping his temple.

What this roughly meant was, “choose a President who has brains, not just one who is all courage.”

It should be noted that Alvarez criticized the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the same interview, calling it a “failure.”

Alvarez was accused of assailing Duterte and questioning his abilities as leader, but the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) secretary-general said this wasn’t the case.

“Hindi, hindi banat yan sa admin. Dito naman sa amin sa probinsya ng Davao del Norte, eh wala naman kaming ano, seryosong makakalaban dito (No, that wasn’t an attack on the administration. Here in our province of Davao del Norte, we really don’t have serious rivals),” Alvarez said, as if to say he was very much part of the current administration.

He claimed that the statements he made were “meant for voters’ education.”

“Maging responsible citizen tayo kung gusto natin umayos yung susunod na pamahalaan. Kailangan ipaintindi sa mga voters, lalo na sa mga masang Pilipino na napakahalaga ng pagpili ng Pangulo (We should be responsible citizens if we want the next government to be orderly. We need to make voters understand, especially those coming from the masses, that choosing the President is important).”

Alvarez insisted that his advice was not pertaining to President Duterte. “Hindi para sa kanya yung statement ko. Para yun dun sa mga susunod na Pangulo (My statement wasn’t for him, it was for the succeeding Presidents). They must have what it takes to be a leader. They are not applying for an ordinary job.”

“Ang ibig kong sabihin ng ‘may utak,’ yung mayroong kakayahan, may diskarte. Hindi ibig sabihin na kailangan abugado ka, doktor ka, o matataas yung grado mo noong ikaw ay nag-aaral. Kasi marami namang hindi nagtapos ng kurso sa kolehiyo na magagaling. Leadership ang pinag-uusapan natin dito. Hindi diploma ang pinag-uusapan dito (When I said ‘with brains,’ I meant those with capabalities, street smarts. It doesn’t mean you should be a lawyer, a doctor, or you had high grades in school. There are many who people who didn’t finish college but are good. We’re talking about leadership here. This is not about diplomas),” Alvarez said.

The 75-year-old Duterte is a lawyer, just like Alvarez.