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Allies urge public to go easy on Duterte over jabs at De Lima

Solons ‘in no position to judge President if he has ascendancy to criticize senator’
/ 04:58 PM August 18, 2016
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives have urged the public to step back and not make judgments about the Chief Executive whether or not he has the right to criticize Sen. Leila de Lima.

In a press conference among chairpersons and vice chairpersons of the House appropriations committee on Thursday, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said he hoped the rift between Duterte and De Lima would be settled.

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“Ang paniwala ko naman diyan, lahat naman, everything can be amicably settled among honorable servants of the people,” Nograles said.

He said the public should step back from the heated rift between Duterte and De Lima in order for the two to settle their conflict.

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“Ako kasi ang tingin ko diyan, let’s step back and relax. It takes a lot of moral courage and strength to do so. But I think as officers in government, I believe that they will do the right thing,” Nograles said.

Nograles, who belongs to the National Unity Party, supported Duterte during the latter’s campaign for the presidency. He is the son of former  Speaker Prospero Nograles, Duterte’s bitter political rival. Duterte and Nograles settled their differences after the former announced his presidential candidacy.

READ: Nograles to vote for rival Duterte in 2016

Former Speaker Nograles lost to Duterte in the 1992 and 1998 mayoral election. In 2010, the elder Nograles again ran for mayor against Duterte’s daughter Sara and lost. The elder Nograles served as  Speaker from 2008 to 2010.

For her part, Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Antonino acknowledged herself as the lone woman in the press briefing, but said she was in no position to judge Duterte if he had ascendancy to criticize De Lima.

Duterte during the campaign flaunted that he had two wives and several girlfriends, and even kissed random women in public, delighting the crowd.

READ: Duterte: I have 2 wives and 2 girlfriends Duterte blasts female senator: She’s ‘immoral’, an ‘adulterer’

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The President, however, still made it a point to criticize De Lima for her alleged adulterous affairs with her driver, whom he accused of earning money from drugs.

“As the only woman in this table right now, ako naman, there will always be criticisms. We are criticized left and right by all kinds of people. It’s something that comes with the job and it’s something we have to deal with,” said Antonino, a vice chairperson of the appropriations committee.

Asked about Duterte’s ascendancy to criticize De Lima, Antonino said it was not for her to make that judgment, but that the President should be left alone in his brash and frank way of expressing his thoughts.

“That’s not my judgment to make. And I don’t think that’s anybody’s judgment to make. We have the right to also say that a person is also entitled to their own opinion. It just so happens that we have a very outspoken President,” she said.

“He’s going to say what’s on his mind, right or wrong. Siguro it’s his personal opinion. He’s always been known in Davao as straightforward. He’ll say what he wants, whatever is on his mind. We will have our opinions whether it’s right or wrong for him to say that. In terms of saying it’s a moral ascendancy, I don’t really think it’s that,” she added.

She said whether or not one liked the President, Duterte still enjoyed the overwhelming mandate of the people after the elections.

“It’s him, it’s him. That’s him. Love him or hate him, that is him. He’s our President. The people voted for him,” Antonino said.

In his speech during the 115th police service anniversary at Camp Crame on Wednesday, Duterte criticized a lady senator for being an “adulterer” and “immoral” because of her affair with her driver who allegedly earned money from drugs.

“Here’s a senator complaining. One day I will tell you that her driver himself, who was a lover, was the one collecting money for her during the campaign. An immoral woman, insofar as the driver’s wife is concerned, it’s adultery. Here’s a woman who funded a house of a lover and yet we don’t see any complaint about it. Those money came readily from drugs,” Duterte said.

READ: Duterte slams De Lima

Outraged by the senator’s move to launch an investigation against him, Duterte later named the senator as De Lima.

A former justice secretary, De Lima ran and won as senator under the Liberal Party in the previous election. She investigated Duterte’s links to the vigilante group Davao Death Squad which had supposedly carried out 1,000 summary killings in Davao City during Duterte’s term as mayor.

READ: De Lima: Witness links Duterte to Davao Death Squad 

An emotional De Lima in a press briefing on Thursday said she would not back out from pushing through with her investigation on extrajudicial killings next Monday despite the attacks from the President.

“Mas nanaisin ko na kayo o ang inyong gobyerno magbaon sa akin, kesa ako magbaon sa aking sarili,” De Lima said, lamenting Duterte’s abuse of power in disrespecting a coequal branch of government.

READ: De Lima bewails Duterte ‘abuse, misuse of power’ 

Liberal Party solon Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat and LP ally Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin criticized Duterte for being “unbecoming” of a President, which could pose a “chilling effect” on his critics.

The Liberal Party congressmen in the House of Representatives expressed their support for De Lima as their counterparts in the Senate also backed the beleaguered senator.

READ: LP senators rally behind De Lima amid Duterte’s tirades LP-allied solon scores Duterte for attack on De Lima 

The party of former President Benigno Aquino III also issued an official statement hitting Duterte’s “gutter language.”

“The Liberal Party stands for free and open debate, for due process of law, and respect and civility in public discourse … Sen. Leila de Lima is doing her job as a senator of the republic. She deserves support, not condemnation; respect, and not gutter language; she and our people deserve the facts, not innuendo,” the party said in a statement./rga

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TAGS: Karlo Nograles, Leila de Lima, Magnolia Antonino, Rodrigo Duterte
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