MANILA, Philippines – Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, the long-time partner of President Rodrigo Duterte, on Monday, October 2, defended him from accusations that he is a killer.
Her argument was simple: if the father of her daughter were a killer, his political enemies would have long been dead.
"You've seen it, Trillanes has been hitting us since a week before election. Eh bakit buhay pa siya? 'Di ba? Wala naman nangyayari eh (Then why is he still alive, right? Nothing's happened to him), so it's not true. You know that he's (the President) not that kind of person," Avanceña said.
She was talking to Philippine National Police officials during the launch of the PNP's "Life After TokHang" program. The project seeks to provide a holistic approach in the drug war, for which Duterte has been largely criticized. (READ: Drug addiction is a health problem. Somebody please tell the President.)
Aside from Trillanes, Avanceña cited Duterte's relationship with his long-time critic in Davao City, former Speaker Prospero Nograles.
"Nograles himself has done not very good things to him in the past, but look how forgiving he is," she said, referring to Duterte burying the hatchet with Nograles.
"He will never instruct anybody, the Armed Forces, or the PNP for that matter, to kill for no reason at all. Hindi niya ho kaya gawin 'yun, abogado po siya (He won't find it in himself to do it, he's a lawyer)," she added.
While Avanceña believes Duterte is not a killer, the President has been put on the record countless times threatening to have people killed for violating the law. He has said in many instances that he himself has killed. (READ: Duterte says he 'maybe' killed a man at 17)
The primary targets of Duterte's threats are drug suspects, even though these people have the right to life and fair trial. He repeatedly calls for their death, even urging relatives of drug suspects to take part in the cleansing.
He has threatened to shoot dead human rights advocates since they are the loudest voices in the chorus of criticism against the President.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.