Short of saying that President Rodrigo Duterte was in a joking mode again, Malacañang on Friday clarified the statement of the President about the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) which the opposition and critics have been linking to the government’s war on drugs.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was not serious when the President said his only “sin” is the extrajudicial killings.
“Tingin ko po, iyan ay hina-highlight niya na never, never siyang nagnakaw. Pinupulaan siya ng EJK pero hindi po siya napupulaan na magnanakaw siya (I think, he was just highlighting that he never stole money. He is being accused of EJK but never of corruption),” Roque said in a radio interview.
Duterte made the statement in his speech during the oath-taking of career government officials in Malacañang on Thursday while defending himself against attacks of opposition Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan.
“Ngayon, walang mag-amin. Ito naman si pontifical Pangilinan, akala mo walang kasalanan kung magsalita. Siya pa ‘yung presidente ng Liberal. Tignan mo, pati siya hindi manalo ‘yan. Ako, I will talk to — eh political exercise now. What are your sins? Ako? Sabi ko nga sa military,anong kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako diyan ni piso? Sige daw. Did I prosecute somebody na ipinakulong ko? Ang kasalanan ko lang ‘yung mga extrajudicial killing (Now, nobody admits. This pontifical Pangilinan, he speaks as if he has no sin. He is even the president of Liberal. Look, he will not even win. Me, I will talk to – this is political exercise now. What are your sins? Me? I told the military, what is my sin? Did I steal even one peso? Prove it. Did I prosecute somebody whom I sent to jail? My only sin is the extrajudicial killings.),” Duterte was quoted as saying.
Roque added that the President, former mayor of Davao City for over two decades, was just emphasizing that he has never been involved in corruption.
“Sinasabi lang niya iyan, kasi nga palaging sinasabi iyan ang ginagawa niya ano. Pero it’s also na dinidiin lang niya na talagang hindi siya nagnanakaw, pero I don’t think na ang konteksto niyan ay literal (He said that because they [critics] kept on saying that he is doing it (EJK). But it’s also he was emphasizing that he never steals but I don’t think its context was literal),” Roque said.
He also clarified the President’s remark was not self-incriminating since his speech was not under oath.
“That’s the President po being himself, being playful, being… highlighting the point na hindi siya (that he is not) corrupt,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President was just explaining that the only issue his critics could use against him is the EJKs.
“Kaya kapag sinabi niyang ang kasalanan ko lang ay extrajudicial killing, ibig sabihin, ang isyu lang sa akin bilang Presidente ay extrajudicial killing. Iyon ang ibig sabihin nun (That’s why if he said my only sin is extrajudicial killings, the only issue against him as President is extrajudicial killings. That’s the meaning of it),” Panelo said in another radio interview.
Panelo said the public should also understand that Duterte, being the first President from Mindanao, is still having difficulty to speak properly in Tagalog.
“Alam mo, Bisaya si Presidente (You know, the President is Bisaya),” he said.
In the same Palace event on Thursday, Duterte reiterated that International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has no right to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
“You are actually exercising functions which you are not supposed to do. It belongs to government. At the very least, you are committing usurpation of authority,” Duterte said.
Panelo agreed, saying, “This ICC is unelectable, unaccountable to the people of a sovereign state. They have no business intruding into the sovereignty of a country”.
“Kailangan igagalang mo iyong Saligang Batas ng isang bansa kasi iyong (You need to respect the Constitution of one country because the) international law cannot prevail over the domestic law,” he added.
Panelo earlier said the Philippines does not need the ICC since the country’s justice system is still working well. (PNA)