Palace: Mischief with purpose

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo. (Facebook Image)

President Rodrigo Duterte has an impish habit of taunting and agitating his critics with his patented abrasive rhetoric, but it always has an underlying message, residential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

The President tries to spice his speeches to make people laugh, but the message is very clear

“It has been the norm. The problem with his critics is that they do not know the President. Both of us are similar in being impish. The more you criticize where there is no basis for such, he does it more,” Panelo said yesterday in a radio interview.


The official ruled out the possibility of Mr. Duterte changing his manner of public speaking.

“It was that character which won for him the trust of voters. Why should he change that?” he said. “The President tries to spice his speeches to make people laugh, but the message is very clear. He comes across to the audience. It is only lost to those critics, detractors, those who don’t see anything right in what he does.”

Panelo related that he talked to Commission on Audit (CoA) chairman Michael Aguinaldo regarding Mr. Duterte’s earlier statement in which he joked about kidnapping and killing “CoA auditors.” He said the CoA chief took Duterte’s comment in stride.

CoA chief not worried
“Many reacted to it, political opponents and critics. They said the President’s statement was worrying. Well, I have something to share. Last night, I was taking my dinner… then somebody approached me, who is a friend of my dinner partner, but I was not minding the name given to me and, even if I heard the name that was told me, I failed to recall who he was,” Panelo said.

“So anyway, we shook hands, then he returned to his table. I then asked my friend who that guy was, and I was told ‘he is the chairman of CoA.’ So, it was my turn to go to his table and asked him ‘What was your reaction to the President’s statement when you heard it?’” he shared.

He quoted Aguinaldo as telling him, “Sir, I chuckled. He was joking the way he explained it.”

That means even the person who was the supposed subject of Mr. Duterte’s speech understood him, Panelo said.

“Those who reacted are more popish than the Pope,” he said.

No need to defend
Panelo denied that all the Palace does is defend the President. “We’re not defending the President. We’re just telling them exactly what he means. It’s not defending,” he said.

To those who understand him, there’s no need to explain, he added.

“The best way to understand the President is to accept him as he is. Those who are usually shocked are the ultra-conservatives. So, explaining to them is useless. That’s the way it is,” he said.

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