During the oath-taking of appointees last Tuesday at Malacañang, Duterte lambasted some mayors, including Loot, for their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. He went on to talk about the attempt to assassinate Loot, one of the former police officials in the so-called narco list.
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Palace on ambush remark: Duterte misspoke
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday clarified President Duterte’s remark that he “ambushed” retired police general and former Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor Vicente Loot, saying the Chief Executive merely “misspoke” because he lacks command of the Filipino language.

During the oath-taking of appointees last Tuesday at Malacañang, Duterte lambasted some mayors, including Loot, for their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. He went on to talk about the attempt to assassinate Loot, one of the former police officials in the so-called narco list.

“General Loot, p***** i** mo, nanalo pa ng...mayor. In-ambush kita animal ka, buhay pa rin (son of a b****, he won as...mayor. I ambushed you, you beast, you’re still alive),” the President said.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, maintained that Duterte meant something else when he made the remark.

“‘In-ambush kita, buhay ka pa’ (was) uttered by a Bisaya President who is not proficient in (Filipino), the vernacular language used in the capital city of Manila and in most areas in Luzon,” Panelo said in a statement.

“What the President intended to say was: ‘In-ambush ka na, buhay ka pa (You have been ambushed, yet you are still alive).’ That has been his line as shown by the transcripts of some of his previous speeches every time he touches on the topic of General Loot’s ambush,” he added.

It was “silly and absurd” to conclude that Duterte was behind the ambush just “because he misspeaks the Filipino language, which is not his native tongue or first language,” according to Panelo.

“Let us be clear and categorical: the President did not order the ambush of General Loot,” the presidential spokesman said.

“The Filipino nation, by this time, is already familiar and used to the language of the President who invariably uses a mixture of English, Bisaya (Cebuano dialect) and Filipino in communicating with the nation,” he added.

Last December, Duterte claimed that former senator and interior secretary Manuel Roxas II had ordered the ambush of Loot because the Roxas aide is involved in narcotics. Panelo later claimed the President was just joking.

Joke, but also a warning

Duterte’s remarks that he had ordered the attack against former mayor Loot might have been a joke, but this should also be considered as a warning against those engaged in the illegal drug trade, senators said yesterday.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III downplayed Duterte’s remarks, saying the public is used to such outbursts.

“I don’t know what he meant. These things have two facets: one, he could be really angry that he sometimes blurts out things that would be misconstrued. On the other hand, assuming it’s true, he is President, what can you charge him with? Nothing,” Sotto said.

Sen. Bong Go, a former close aide of Duterte, told reporters the President “really speaks that way.”

“Why will he say that, admitting that he ordered the ambush, if he indeed gave the order? The President will not do that,” Go said.

“It’s a joke, but also a warning to all: ‘when you engage – governor or mayor – when you engage in drugs, you do so at your own risk,’” he added.

Go has known the President for 21 years that “whatever he says in his speeches, he whispers or his body language, could be true, could be not, be careful.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros mocked Panelo, saying if Google has a translator, “Duterte also has a translator.”

“If the President says the color is red, for Secretary Panelo, it’s black. If the President is rude to women, it’s just a joke for Secretary Panelo. If the President admits to killing, it’s just slip of the tongue for Secretary Panelo,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.

“But there’s also something lost in translation, what’s lost is the truth,” she said. – Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe

AMBUSH DRUG WAR VICENTE LOOT
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