House leaders on Duterte apology: 'We all make mistakes'
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on Monday, October 3, came to the defense of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had apologized over his controversial remarks on Adolf Hitler.
"Well, okay naman 'yun. Lahat naman tayo nagkakamali. Kung kinakailangang mag-apologize, mag-apologize ka," said Alvarez in a press conference at the House of Representatives.
(Well, that's okay. We all make mistakes. If you need to apologize, then apologize.)
"'Di naman perfect siguro ang bawat tao na lahat ng gagawin mo ay tama. Ngayon, 'pag na-realize mo na 'di tama, at least you have that courage to apologize," added Alvarez, who is the secretary-general of Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
(People aren't perfect that every single thing they do is right. Now, when you realize you're wrong, at least you have the courage to apologize.)
On September 30, Duterte lamented that some members of the international community have portrayed him as a "cousin" of Hitler.
A few minutes later, however, he drew parallels between Hitler's annihilation of 6 million Jews and his controversial campaign against drugs.
"Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there [are] 3 million drug addicts….I'd be happy to slaughter them," said Duterte.
For Alvarez, the public must remember that Duterte may be prone to making mistakes because he is "fighting a lot of fronts," including the ongoing war against drugs as well as insurgency issues.
"Siguro naman, kahit na siya ang Presidente, pero tao pa rin 'yan. Sa dami ng problema ng bansa, 'di maiiwasan na magkakamali," said Alvarez.
(Even if he's the President, he's still human. With the number of problems in the country, you can't avoid making mistakes.)
'Stop talking, just work'
For his part, Fariñas said Duterte bears the burden of his words having more weight on policy concerns.
"Minsan, you've been inviting me to fora or press con, 'di na 'ko pumupunta kasi biglang Majority Leader na 'ko. Iba na 'pag Majority Leader ka – you speak for so many people. Si Presidente gano'n din eh," said Fariñas, who is also a member of PDP-Laban.
(Sometimes, I don't go to fora or press conferences I'm invited to because I'm already Majority Leader. It's different when you're Majority Leader – you speak for so many people. It's the same for the President.)
Fariñas said Duterte may need more time to adjust when it comes to policy pronouncements because the President had been used to politics on the local level.
"I'm sure he's trying to change pero 71 years old na rin siya (but he is already 71 years old). He cannot change overnight also… Like you said, 'yung pagkakamali inamin niya (he admitted his mistake). I'm sure he's trying also pero mahirap magbago nang ganun-ganun lang (but it's hard to change just like that)," added Fariñas.
He then advised Duterte to avoid speaking in public: "I would advise the President, huwag na ho kayo magsalita. Magtrabaho na lang kayo."
(I would advise the President, don't speak anymore. Just work.)
But he acknowledged that Duterte himself cannot be stopped from talking to the media.
"He loves the media, you love him also. He also accommodates you. Do'n tayo nagkaka-problema 'pag tinatanong siya (The problems come when he answers your questions)," Fariñas said.
Duterte previously boycotted the media in June after he was asked about his whistling at a GMA-7 female reporter.
After two months, however, Duterte resumed answering questions from the media in press conferences and ambush interviews. – Rappler.com