Duterte on lawyers' virtual protest: 'If that made them happy, well and good'

Malacañang shrugged off the small protest of some members of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) against President Duterte, saying the Chief Executive probably does not care about it.

Photo of the online convention of the IBP where President Duterte's recorded message was met with some NUPL lawyers changing their profile picture to a sign that read 'Stop the Attacks on Lawyers and Judges.' (Photo from NUPL courtesy of ABS-CBN reporter Mike Navallo)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after some NUPL members changed their profile pictures during President Duterte's taped message to a sign that read" "Stop the Attacks on Lawyers and Judges" during an online convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) over the weekend.

In his press briefing on Monday, Roque said the President does not have any reaction to the incident but said it was "well and good" if NUPL's little stunt made them happy.

"Kung ikaliligaya ng mga NUPL yun, eh 'di hayaan natin. Eh, 'di naging maligaya sila (If that made the NUPL happy, then we leave them be. They're happy)," he said.

"I don't know what that achieved but if that made them happy-- well and good," he added.

However, Roque said he felt bad about what happened because he was instrumental in convincing President Duterte to give a message for the event.

"Hindi po alam ni Presidente 'yan (The President does not know about this) because it was pre-recorded. But now that I found out about it, I feel somehow bad because I was instrumental in providing that message," he said.

"Ni-request po 'yan ng (The message was requested by the) IBP president and I made sure that the President will make a statement. So I feel kind of bad that yung accommodation na nga ni Presidente (the President's accommodation) was met with this kind of action," he added.

Roque revealed that Duterte acceded to the request even though he was disappointed with the IBP.

"Before making the recording, sinabi nga niya na medyo masama ang loob niya sa (he said he was disappointed with the) IBP because of a past incident. But, nonetheless, he proceeded to record a message because he knows that the IBP is still the association of all lawyers, his fellow lawyers," he said.

"The President did not know about it, he probably does not care. But I personally feel that since I was instrumental in making that record," he added.

"Hindi ko maintindihan kung ano yung kailgayahang makukuha ng mga NUPL lawyers na 'yan (I don't understand what kind of satisfaction will the NUPL lawyers get from that)," he continued.

In a statement, NUPL President Edre Olalia said it was "discomfiting to be addressed in a national gathering of lawyers by a fellow lawyer who cannot be considered (a) sentinel of everything that lawyers should believe in and defend."

Attacks on judges and lawyers

Meanwhile, Roque denied that the administration has not done enough to stop attacks on judges and lawyers.

"Have we addressed the killings of judges and lawyers? Of course, we have," he said.

"Abogado po ang ating Presidente at talaga naman pong ang kaniyang utos: Lahat ng pinatay, lalung-lalo na ang mga abogado at mahistrado, kailangan maimbestigahan (The President is a lawyer and his order was all deaths, especially of lawyers and judges, should be investigated)," he added.

"Kinakailangang mapurasahan ang mga pumatay sa kanila (Their killers should be punished)," he continued.