3 OF 5 Duterte remarks ‘foolishness’
Listen to us more, not to the President.
That’s practically the advice of presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella to journalists covering President Duterte, who had told reporters that three of every five statements he had made publicly were just wisecracks.
Abella himself, however, seemed to doubt the President’s remarks, many of which had stirred up controversies and drawn condemnation from local and international groups.
During a regular news briefing in Malacañang on Thursday, Abella noted that Mr. Duterte “is very serious,” although he “can be quite humorous.”
‘Listen to us’
“Listen to [us during our] press conferences,” he said after being asked how to determine if the President was serious or just joking.
Pressed to explain, Abella replied: “Well, technically, what we do emphasize in the press conferences are vetted and properly vetted.”
He added: “I’m not saying [the President’s statements are] not properly vetted. I’m simply saying that at this stage, when we say it, it simply means to say we have gone through the process of discerning whether it was a joke or not.
“When there’s a particular statement that needs to be, for example, if it tends to be a policy… it would be underlined during the press conferences.”
Addressing employees of the Bureau of Customs on Wednesday, Mr. Duterte said reporters were “not really attuned to my character.”
“Of the five things I say, only two of those are true. The three others are just foolishness,” he said. “And so I’m just fond of doing it. I just want to laugh… at the expense also of myself sometimes.”
Abella stressed that the President was “very consistent in his statements.”
But a review of Mr. Duterte’s speeches showed that he had flip-flopped on several major policy statements.
For one, Mr. Duterte once said the Abu Sayyaf bandits were not criminals but just “driven to desperation” because of the government’s “failed promises.”
Later he took his statement back, even warning he would eat the bandits alive if they continued kidnapping people and setting off bombs in Mindanao.
Mr. Duterte had also said he was willing to be killed if he failed to deliver on his campaign promise of stamping out illegal drugs within the first six months of his presidency, or until last December.
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