In a very rare moment in present politics, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon defended President Rodrigo Duterte against his critic. Despite belonging to the Opposition, the Liberal Party (LP) senator defended the president against UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on Monday, March 12.
“Kahit ako ay nasa oposisyon, ayaw ko rin na insultuhin ang ating Pangulo. Sa akin po, bilang Pilipino, hindi maganda na ang pinuno (natin) ay iinsultuhin nang ganito at nagiging personal.” Sen. Drilon said in an interview with dzRH, noting that it would be better if the UN official can discuss things with the president in a civilized manner.
(Even if I’m with the Opposition, I don’t like our president being insulted. For me, being a Filipino, it’s not good that our president will be insulted like this and it’s getting personal.)
“Siguro we must have restraint in this debate. We can debate. Ika nga, we can disagree, we need not be disagreeable. And ibig sabihin, magdebate tayo but let us keep to a level na ang isyu lamang ang pag-uusapan at hindi po nagiging personalan,” he added, who last January said that he has full respect to the president.
“Hindi po bago sa akin iyan dahil noong alkalde siya ng Davao ay ganyan ang style niya. Ngunit ngayon na Pangulo na siya ay siguro mas malawak ang epekto ng kaniya binibitiwang salita (This is not new to me because this was his style when he was still the mayor of Davao. But now that he’s the president, his words have a wider effect.)” Drilon said further.
Apparently, Drilon was referring to al-Hussein’s statements on Friday saying that, “It makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.” He said, as response to the president’s statement last November that he wants to slap the face of UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
“That’s why I told Callamard, ‘if you investigate me, I’ll slap you.’ I will slap her in front of you. Why? Because you are insulting me. Why? Because you yourself do not believe in the research of your own organization.” Duterte said at that time, when he learned that Callamard plans to investigate him on the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country.
As of posting, President Duterte has not yet responded to al-Hussein’s comments. However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the UN official’s remarks “is completely uncalled for and demeans not only the Head of State of a Member-State, but tarnishes the reputation of the Office of the High Commissioner.”
“The comments of the High Commissioner bring great dishonor to the Human Rights Council and its noble endeavors. There is no reason whatsoever for such an unmeasured outburst directed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and it should not be repeated,” he added.