Pres. Duterte discusses national issues during a ‘tête-à-tête’ with Panelo

‘tête-à-tête’ WITH THE PRESIDENT. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo sits down with President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised interview in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday, September 11. The president discussed previous issues with Panelo including the rice crisis, amnesty and the supposed destabilization plot, among others. PNA photo

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, September 11, addressed the country with varied matters of national importance during a “tête-à-tête” with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in Malacañang.

Initially, the president called for a press conference at 3 p.m. without disclosing the scope of his speech. However, an hour before the said media affair, Presidential Communications Group Undersecretary Feducia Mia Reyes-Lucas said Duterte’s press conference would no longer push through.

Palace officials told the media that the president will instead answer questions solely from his legal counsel. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. cleared out the official activities that were to transpire that afternoon, as reported by Inquirer.

“Lilinawin ko lang po, matutuloy po ‘yung pina-planong têtê-a-têtê ni Presidente at ni Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo. Ang format po pala ay it will be a close-in event with PTV-4 and RTVM, but I believe that PCOO had previously asked for the questions of the media. So your questions will be asked for you by Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo (I would just like to clarify, the têtê-a-têtê of the president and Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo will still continue. The format will be a close-in event with PTV-4 and RVTM),” Roque said.

Duterte explained the government’s plans on a hodgepodge of issues, including the situation in Mindanao, inflation, the war on drugs, EDSA traffic, telecommunication players and the revocation of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty.

The leader said that there is a significant decline in the crime rate ever since the southern region was put under a martial law rule.

“It has lessened the criminality at large. The only way to confirm that is to conduct a survey. Maybe they can conduct an interview,” Duterte said.

Amid the complaints of price surges in the country, as reflected from the recent inflation rate data released by the Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA), Duterte assured the public that the economic managers are on top of it and that instances like this can be deemed as normal.

“Shortages [are] always there. The economic life is not always a bed of roses,” Duterte said.

The tough-talking leader did not spare the uniformed personnel when Panelo asked him regarding the war on drugs that his administration has adamantly focused on. He warned all the police officials that they might meet their doom if they continue with the drug trade.

“Meron ditong mga pulis na nasa droga talaga. Kapag andiyan ka sa droga ikaw ang mauuna (There are police here involved in drugs, if you are involved in drugs, you are first to die),” Duterte warned.

Duterte assured the public that he will fulfill the promises he made during his campaign.

“I am trying to govern the way I promised. Sinabi ko sa inyo na I will fight corruption. Wala akong pinatawad dito (I told you I will fight corruption. I never forgave anybody about this),” Duterte said.

He denied any accusations that he is involved with corruption. He even noted that his salary would go straight to the Land Bank of the Philippines and that he would not receive any extra.

“Sinabi ko sa inyo na di ako makialam sa transaksyon sa gobyerno. It begins and ends with the cabinet member. Wala akong extra perks. Nagtatrabaho lang po ako (I told you that I will never interfere with the government transactions. I don’t have extra perks. I am just doing my job),” Duterte noted.

He added, “Nagpatay ako nang maraming kriminal, alangan naman pulis ko o sundalo ko ang mamatay (I ordered to kill many criminals, it’s better than having my police and soldiers killed).” 

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