ON some rare occasions, President Rodrigo Duterte can be soft toward his critics and their harsh remarks.
Duterte, in his speech during former president Fidel Ramos’ book launching on Monday, July 17, said that he “accepts” the advice and “respect” the criticisms the former president throws against him.
“I respect your criticism. I accept your advice and maybe I will mimic your role as president before,” Duterte said
“You can continue criticizing me, sir,” the chief executive added.
Ramos gave Duterte a t-shirt with the words, “Follow me,” the motto of Fort Benning in Georgia, where the former president finished his special military courses.
“I will follow you, just like what the shirt says,” Duterte said.
“Only difference is that, I am not a military man. But love of country, patas tayo, sir (we are just on the same level). I would say that I love my country as much as you do, and we are ready to die for this country,” he added.
Ramos first lashed out at Duterte in October 2016 in light of the president’s first 100 days. Ramos criticized Duterte’s brutal war on drugs and tirades against the international community.
The former president’s latest negative remark about Duterte was during the Russia trip last May that aimed to “boost economic ties” between Russia and the Philippines.
During the said trip, the president was accompanied by his economic team and cabinet officials. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, some members of the Senate and the House, assistant secretaries and staff members also joined the presidential delegation to Russia.
The former president said that the trip turned out to be a “junket” and that “some people should have stayed behind.”
The Palace, in return, answered that it is important to have the “key members” of the president’s administration to accompany Duterte.
Ramos played a role in convincing Duterte to run for the presidency during the 2016 national elections.
Duterte has ever since showed respect and trust towards Ramos, as manifested in different forms — through speeches, special assignments and as a “source” of information.
During the president’s inaugural speech, he gave Ramos a special mention, saying, “President Fidel Ramos, sir, salamat po sa tulong mo (thank you for your help in) making me president.”
In July, Duterte assigned Ramos to be the administration’s special envoy to negotiate talks with China regarding the controversial West Philippine Sea.
In September, Duterte revealed that Ramos was one of his sources for his list of personalities linked to illegal drugs. However, Ramos denied giving such info to the president.