Gordon on Duterte insults: He’s just concerned about my waistline
Sen. Richard Gordon said he would not back down from criticizing President Duterte’s appointment of retired military men to government positions, even after becoming the latest target of the Chief Executive’s scathing insults.
Speaking at the anniversary of the Bureau of Fire Protection on Thursday night, Mr. Duterte spewed a barrage of slurs against Gordon after the senator spoke out against the designation of retired Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat as board member of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
“You are a fart away from disaster … Do not be too presumptuous about your talent. Why do you criticize me? It’s my prerogative,” the President said.
Gordon, one of the administration’s allies in the Senate, on Friday said he did not mind such remarks from the President, who also called the lawmaker a “smart-ass” who moves around “like a penguin.” Mr. Duterte was apparently poking fun at the senator’s paunch which, he said, had become a repository of Gordon’s “melted brain.”
“I am happy that [the] President is concerned about my waistline, [though] he need not worry about that … But I appreciate that he is concerned about my health as I am about his,” Gordon said in a statement, adding:
“I take no offense at the President’s comments. As I have said, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and we cannot be onion-skinned about such things. I will continue to focus on working hard to serve the country and the people.”
“The statements I made … were made in good faith and out of concern for our country and the President, whom I consider a friend,” Gordon said. “We have known each other since we were both mayors and believe that we have mutual respect.”
In a media interview on Tuesday, Gordon said the President’s continued appointment of former military officials to civilian offices “saddens” him.
“The problem with the President is that he has a shallow bench. He comes from the province so he doesn’t know (many people) that’s why he relies on the military,” he said. “It’s dangerous because civilian authority must remain supreme over the military.”
The senator maintained that it was not his intention to belittle the competence of military personnel and that he had, in fact, introduced and supported several measures in the Senate to improve their condition.
Gordon recalled how he pushed for a proposal seeking a 15-percent increase in share of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from revenues collected under the new tax law. He threatened “to filibuster,” he said, until the President assured him of its implementation.
“I also have great respect for the military and the Armed Forces because they are the protector of the people and the state. At the same time, however, we want to assure the public that we are not militarizing the government,” he added.
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