Philippine arts

Panelo: Critics calling Duterte a bully ‘cannot swallow reality’
Panelo: Critics calling Duterte a bully ‘cannot swallow reality’

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President Rodrigo Duterte only 'threatens the criminals and the corrupt' and 'curses the hypocrites,' according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – When the Ateneo Junior High School bullying controversy broke, some commenters online also criticized a person they described as the “top bully”: President Rodrigo Duterte.

But Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo repeated on Christmas Eve his earlier statement that Duterte “is not a bully.”

“To bully is to inflict injury, pain, and fear against those who are weak and incapable of fighting back or defenseless,” Panelo said on Monday, December 24.

He added: “The criminals and the corrupt violate the law with impunity, they feel no fear in their hearts to account for their crimes. They kill, they rob, they plunder the people’s money, they couldn’t care less if as a consequence of their crimes people suffer or die. PRRD threatens the criminals and the corrupt with punishment as a retribution for their wrongs. He curses the hypocrites to let them know that they cannot deceive the people with their hypocrisy.”

Panelo also claimed that only critics classify Duterte as a bully “because either they cannot swallow the reality of what he says or they feel alluded to.”

The President often launches expletive-ridden tirades, targeting various sectors and individuals – from world leaders and human rights defenders, to Catholic Church leaders and even God. Press freedom has also been under attack under his administration. (READ: The Duterte Insult List)

But Panelo reiterated that Duterte uses “strong and hyperbolic language for emphasis and effect.”

“His manner of speaking has been factored in – and accepted by the electorate when they overwhelming voted him into presidency,” the spokesman said. (READ: Panelo on ‘laway’ remark: Duterte’s speaking style made him President)

This is not the first time that Panelo has said Duterte is not a bully. He gave the same statement in response to a recent Simbang Gabi homily by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on bullying and abuse of power.

Tagle, in his Christmas message issued on Monday, also apologized to the youth for bullying, violence, and lies by elders. –

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