Below the waist: Duterte rants vs mayor in ‘bikini’
MANILA, Philippines — Annoyed by a city mayor’s “disorganized mind,” President Rodrigo Duterte has not only mocked the official for old photos of him in a “bikini” but also barred him from distributing government “ayuda” (cash aid) to his constituents.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque refused to identify the city or confirm the widely held view that Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso was the object of Duterte’s tirade in his regular public address on Monday.
Domagoso is the only mayor in Metro Manila who was once an actor and who starred in movies showing him scantily clad.
“He has a reason for not saying the name, but I do not know why he did not. So I will have to leave it at that. I am only a spokesperson. If the principal did not want to reveal who the mayor is and which LGU (local government unit) it is, so be it, let’s leave it at that,” Roque said in his Tuesday press briefing.
On Monday, the president said the Department of the Interior and Local Government ( DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), and Department of Social Welfare and Development DSWD) would take charge of handing out the cash aid to qualified residents.
The distribution of the money, which is intended to aid low-income families during the Aug. 6 to 20 lockdown of Metro Manila, is to begin today, as agreed upon by the mayors in the region.
“There is a city there that I would not give the power to distribute the cash aid simply because in so many instances, they cannot organize,” Duterte said.
He said this city’s distribution activities had only resulted in “disorder,” unlike in other Metro Manila areas.
“There’s just one city here. The people are waiting for directions on what to do, but I think it is the mayor who has a disorganized mind,” he added.
In apparent response, Domagoso posted a photo of him receiving a citation from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año recognizing the City of Manila for its “efficient and timely” distribution of cash aid during the March-April surge of COVID-19 infections.
To questions on his reaction to Duterte’s remarks and which agency would take charge of the cash distribution, the mayor responded only with a smiley emoji on the reporters’ Viber chat group.
But as far as Manila Social Welfare head Asunción Fugoso was concerned, the city government would lead the cash distribution as had been planned.
“We’ve been ready since yesterday,” Fugoso said in a radio interview Tuesday morning.
She said the national government sent P1.4 billion last week to the city government, down from the previous allocation of P1.5 billion to Manila. “But we already raised this to the DILG,” she said.
Domagoso is rumored to be planning to seek higher public office. Last June, the Palace named him among those Mr. Duterte was thinking of endorsing in next year’s polls.
On Monday, the president said the unnamed mayor had been blaming other people for the supposed disorder and called on the public not to be fooled.
He also said he saw on Facebook photos of the mayor in skimpy clothing and wondered if this was what the people would want to vote for.
“The jerk was in a bikini and in one of the pictures, he was taking a peek at his private parts. Is this what you want? His training was like that of a call boy,” Duterte said. “That’s the training to be president, taking off clothes and posing for photos and letting others have a look, flaunting their private parts, like Paredes.”
It was a reference to the musician Jim Paredes, a member of the opposition who was caught in an earlier sex video scandal.
Asked about Duterte’s ascendancy in calling out the mayor regarding the sexually charged photos when the President himself had said he abused the family maid when he was young, Roque said “the President never posed for pictures like those.”
‘National funds, anyway’
Roque also said the public was bound to know which city the president was referring to because he had directed certain agencies and the police and military to handle the cash aid.
He said it was expected to proceed and could be done properly even without the mayor’s participation.
He justified Duterte’s decision not to authorize the city to handle the cash aid by saying “that’s national funds, anyway” and the president wanted to ensure proper distribution.
He also said the Palace would leave it to the DILG to decide if sanctions would be imposed on the mayor for his city’s supposed disorderly operations.
Manila’s Fugoso said her office had not received word from the national government on the matter.
“But in case the DSWD takes over [the distribution], that’s fine with us. We just don’t want this delayed because it’s the people who will suffer,” she said.
Fugoso said they planned to carry out the Wednesday distribution again in barangay halls in six Manila districts and in the Baseco compound. She issued the assurance that health protocols would be observed.
Meanwhile, the DILG is awaiting official instructions from the Palace.
DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency would defer to Roque’s announcement.
“The president did not identify the LGU, so we can’t act unless there is a specific and clear instruction,” Malaya said.
Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo criticized Duterte for “politicizing” the distribution of financial aid.
“Instead of politicizing ‘ayuda’ distribution, President Duterte should ensure the speedy distribution of the cash assistance and allocate additional assistance as a minimum of P1000 and a maximum of P4000 are not enough to meet the needs of the majority of our people under lockdown,” Taguiwalo said in a statement.
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