Opinion Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Opinion ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Are you lying again, Mr. President?

For almost three hours, we had the undivided attention of President Rodrigo Duterte who poured out his thoughts and lamentations with invited members of media over dinner at Malacanang Palace last Tuesday. Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar organized the media pow-wow with the Chief Executive.

Andanar along with presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella kept us company until President Duterte finally arrived past 10 p.m. By that time, we were already feeling pangs of hunger after a light dinner of bowl of halaan soup, small cup of rice, two pieces of grilled chicken parts, and a piece of cake roll and coffee or tea.

The President apologized profusedly for being late for the 7 p.m. dinner. The 71-year-old former Davao City Mayor, whose body clock keeps him awake until the wee hours of the morning, more than made up by staying with us until we were the first to bid him goodbye.

At the outset, the President explained he could not leave his joint command conference meeting with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) held at the Palace. As the Commander-in-chief of all armed forces, the President assuaged the leaderships of AFP and PNP they could support ouster moves against him if they believe the accusations of their former colleague, military rebel-turned Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“I also impressed upon them my alleged bank account could not be more than P40 million, my salary could not match it,” he pointed out. “I promised our police and military, if there’s truth to that, just oust me. Tanggalin nyo ako,” he added.

In his hour-long monologue, I jotted down at least three times that President Duterte said he is no liar. “I have no obligation to lie to media. “Diretso ako sa salita, insulto lang ako. Sanay ako ng ganun. I have my faults, plenty of them,” the President cited.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Then in the next breath, the President further averred: “So hindi ako nambobola. Why would I lie to media? For what? Sanay ako sa media sagot-sagot.”

So I raised this observation during the question- and-answer that followed. Directly quoting from my notes, I asked the President, then why did you lie to media about the supposed foreign bank accounts of Sen. Trillanes? The President repeated his previous explanation during the TV 4 interview of Erwin Tulfo that it was intentional on his part in order to mislead and bait Trillanes into acting on false information he gave.

Ma’m, para sa akin, maniwala kayo o hindi, okay lang. There’s no more life to me after the presidency. Let it go. I will never be a bother to anybody,” he quipped.

President Duterte insisted his gambit paid off and he is least worried about Trillanes being misled by the wrong bank account numbers he first gave during the previous TV4 interview with him of Tulfo. Reacting to this admission, Trillanes demanded anew that President Duterte sign the waiver to allow opening of the latter’s bank accounts to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC).

The President disclosed they are fully aware of apparent stepped up destabilization attempts against his 15-month old administration. President Duterte reiterated his suspicions the “yellows” – referring to the color associated with the opposition groups – were largely orchestrating, in fact, ouster moves against him.

And some people behind them, President Duterte strongly hinted mainly involved former administration officials closely identified with his immediate predecessor, ex-president Benigno “Noy” Aquino III. Without naming names, President Duterte virtually confirmed some of these ex-administration officials belong to P-Noy’s Liberal Party (LP) who are implicated in a number of shenanigans while they were still holding government offices.

Then why is it that no formal charges or cases were filed against the same ex-government officials supposedly behind ouster plots on the President?

Pressed if he, too, is observing “selective justice” by not running after these ex-government officials, President Duterte evaded direct answer, except turning cryptic: “I am like Superman. Can you read my mind?” He was, of course, quoting a popular line, which is also the title of the theme song of “Superman,” the movie.

Setting levity aside, President Duterte obviously sensed our collective disbelief on his suddenly turning tight-lipped. “If the system cannot give justice or if the system cannot protect Filipinos, I will do it. I do not hide anything,” the President said in a more serious tone.

“Under the residual powers of the President, all options are available. You just pick out. There are so many cases,” the President pointed out. But he did not elaborate.

The next day, he virtually gave the go-ahead to his allies at the 17th Congress to proceed with the impeachment cases against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In a hastily called press conference at Malacanang, President Duterte renewed his challenge to both Sereno and Morales to submit their respective letters of resignation to Congress. Both enjoying fixed-term appointees of ex-P-Noy, President Duterte lumped Sereno and Morales along with the so-called “yellows” who have not resigned but are still in government.

He accused anew the Ombudsman in particular of allegedly conspiring, whether wittingly or unwittingly, with political forces behind destabilization moves against the Duterte administration. “She’s beholden to LP. She forgot even to be fair. She conspired with Trillanes, Abad,” the President ranted. “When you give me justice or I will do justice for you,” the President told us.

The President stepped up his challenge and asked both Sereno and Morales to attach their respective bank documents as proofs. No need for waiver as being demanded by Trillanes.

“I could not do it (waiver) because it will give pleasure to Trillanes because they got raw information from Abad, mistress of Trillanes who added all the transactions that amounted to billions. I don’t want to play into their hands about non-existent accounts,” the President argued. The alleged “mistress” referred to AMLAC executive director Julia Bacay-Abad.

“That’s (resignation) just my answer. I know there are people like Trillanes working overtime to oust me. I said di ako makikipagpatayan. Now, we’re in a reality show, tell me: Do you believe him (Trillanes)?” President Duterte rhetorically asked.

Is the President lying again? You’re guess is as good as mine.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Opinion Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1