President Duterte cracked jokes during a post-typhoon situation briefing in Camarines Sur Sunday but Malacanang quickly defended his action supposedly to cope with the latest disaster in the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President merely wanted to “lighten the mood” after a day of personally seeing the devastation caused by a recent typhoon. He attributed the President’s recent comment as part of the Filipino trait of using humor in coping with challenges.
Duterte visited typhoon-hit Cagayan and Camarines Sur Sunday to assure the communities of the government’s swift relief and rehabilitation aid. He attended two separate situation briefings in these areas.
“Alam mo talagang ugali na ng Pilipino na bagama’t marami tayong pagsubok ‘no eh sinusubukan pa rin natin na i-lighten iyong ating mga problema. So hindi lang naman po iyan gawain ng ating Presidente (You know it’s a Filipino trait that despite the challenges, we try to lighten our problems. So it’s not only the President who does it),” Roque said during a Palace press briefing Monday.
“Bagama’t matagal na po iyan nangyayari na talagang hindi ninyo ipagkakait sa kaniya na dahil sunud-sunod ang nakikita niyang trahedya eh kahit papaano humanap ng dahilan ‘no para magkaroon nang konting break from – iyong mga kalamidad na binibisita niya (Although it has happened in the past, you cannot deny it from the him because after the consecutive tragedies he saw, he was just trying to take a little break from the calamity areas he visited),” he said.
Towards the end of the situation briefing in Camarines Sur, the President poked fun at his former law classmate, presidential adviser for Bicol affairs Marvel Clavecilla, for supposedly getting old due to womanizing.
Clavecilla was among the government officials present in the disaster relief meeting with the President aired live on government television and social media pages.
“Classmate kami, sir. Classmate ko ito sa law school, brod ko pa. Pero naubos ang panahon niya sa ano, medyo tumanda na. Nakakatanda talaga ‘yan. Sobrang babae, nakakatanda ‘yan (We were classmates in law school. He’s my brod. But he spent his time on…he got old. Having too many women can really make you old),” Duterte said, eliciting laughter from other officials.
Clavecilla replied that he was “undersecs” as suggested by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, who was also present in the meeting. The Palace official holds the rank of undersecretary.
“Sabi nga po ni Cong. LRay undersecs daw po ako, undersecs. Kaya kung puwede ga – kung puwede po gawin mo na akong secretary para hindi na undersecs (Cong. LRay told me I’m ‘undersecs.’ So if you can make me a Secretary so I won’t be undersecs anymore),” Clavecilla said, triggering more laughter from the officials present.
Duterte then mentioned that someone he knew had died supposedly due to the coronavirus. “Ano kaya COVID? P***** ***. Kulang sa babae kung ganun (Is it COVID? Son of a b****. He lacked women if that’s the case),” he said.
Roque defended the President’s behavior, saying the public should “not ready anything beyond the fact the President wants to more or less lighten the mood.” He said the public should just let the President have his light moment.
“Buong araw wala siyang nakita kung hindi disaster ‘no doon po sa Cagayan at doon po sa Naga ‘no. So hayaan na po natin, bigyan naman natin ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng light moment iyong ating Presidente (He spent the whole day seeing the disaster in Cagayan and Naga. So let him be, give the President his moment),” he said.