Palace on Joma’s remark: It’s a free country
Stepping back from a raging word war with the Left, Malacañang on Tuesday said communist leader Jose Ma. Sison was within his rights to call President Rodrigo Duterte the “No. 1 drug addict” in the country.
Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines was still a Filipino who enjoyed the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression.
“Regardless if Mr. Sison is outside the Philippines, he remains to be a Filipino citizen and he has the constitutional right to freedom of expression,” Ablan said.
“If he wants to, that’s within his constitutional right,” he added.
The two have been trading barbs since Mr. Duterte ruled out further talks with the communist rebels and called Sison an old man ailing from colon cancer in his State of the Nation Address last week.
Mr. Duterte had been riled by the rebels’ attacks on security forces, including a convoy of his security men in Arakan, North Cotabato, on July 19.
As their word war intensified, Sison on Sunday called Mr. Duterte the country’s “No. 1 drug addict” who should be the “most fitting target” of the Philippine National Police’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
“As an addict user of the opioid Fentanyl, Duterte is the No. 1 drug addict in the Philippines and is the most fitting target of the police units that he has turned into death squads and corrupted with money and promotions,” Sison said in a statement.
“But many people, including his so-called die-hard supporters, are waking up to the fact that the illegal drug trade continues to thrive even in Bilibid and that Duterte has been favoring certain drug lords by delivering the street market to them where the low-level pushers of other drug syndicates have been slaughtered,” he said.
Formal talks were scheduled to resume later this month.
Mr. Duterte insisted that there should be a ceasefire first before peace talks could proceed.