MANILA, Philippines - He has faced many challenges but for Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Crisologo Singson, none is as important to him now as being a father to his son, the recently resigned Ilocos Sur Congressman Ronald Singson.
In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Singson said he wasn't allowed to say goodbye to Ronald after his sentencing in Hong Kong for bringing cocaine and valium to the former Crown Colony.
"Wala na. Pagka-sentence hiniwalay na siya. Ang anak niya umiiyak. Usually, right after the hearing, nagkikita kaming lahat pati yung anak. Pagka-sentence hinanap na yung anak, wala na nag-iiyak, sumisigaw. Linabas na siya. Hindi na namin nakita," he said in describing Ronald's sentencing last February 24.
A Hong Kong court sentenced the younger Singson to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to bringing drugs into Hong Kong last year. He sent his resignation as congressional representative of Ilocos Sur on Tuesday.
In the interview, the Ilocos Sur governor said he was embarrassed and angry about the incident since he had always told his children not to dabble in drugs.
He said he also felt sorry for his grandchild, who started crying out for Ronald during the sentencing. Now that Ronald is in jail, he is is only allowed 2 visits a month with only 3 people per visit.
Singson reiterated that his son was not a drug user but was forced to admit drug use or risk being given a harsher sentence by the judge for being a drug trafficker.
"You have to prove you are a user or else they will think that the drugs was for profit...Medyo nakatikim siya noong araw pero hindi siya user," he said.
He repeated his claim that a known drug pusher who was on the same flight to Hong Kong had framed Ronald by asking him to carry the drugs. He said the pusher had befriended Ronald for the sole purpose of selling him drugs.
Asked why the congressman would be acquainted with a drug pusher, he said: "Kinakaibigan...para bentahan si Ronald."
'No drugs, no gambling'
The Ilocos Sur governor said he has always been strict with his children and regularly had them tested for drug use.
He alleged that he had one son enter rehab and then jailed in Camp Crame for drug use. " I don't tolerate my children. Pakukulong ko sila," he said.
He also said he had told his kids to do everything "but not drugs and gambling."
Asked why he would rule out gambling when he himself is accused of being a gambling lord, Singson said he was only "used" by a jueteng lord during the Estrada administration in exchange for getting the full amount of his tobacco excise taxes.
Singson lashed out at Ronald's colleagues in the House of Representatives who called for his expulsion from Congress even before the case was finished. He said he had told his son to resign "out of delicadeza" while doubting that the Lower House could muster the two-thirds vote needed to expel him.
"Yung iba kasi sa Congress eh grandstanding lang so wala tayo magawa dun. Sabi ko lang antayin nyo lang tsaka marami ding nag sympathize sa kanya," he said.
No plans for Ronald to run again
Singson said he will consult his constituents in the province to find out who they want to run in the special election to replace Ronald.
He ruled out any of his children from running, saying that all of them are already holding positions or have their own businesses. Singson has 7 children from his first wife and another 5 from his common-law spouse.
"I don't encourage them to enter politics. Sometimes I ask them to run as board members to gain experience but I'd rather see them in business. Politics is hard," he said.
He also ruled out Ronald making a comeback bid in the 2013 election. He said the younger Singson has to pay back society for setting a bad example.
"Even if he is just involved as a victim, I would rather that he just enter business. Ang sabi ko nga yang pagkadapa mo, gawin mo stepping stone sa mas magandang kinabukasan. Bata ka pa naman. He has all the time na mag-isip so sigurado ako magbabago for the better," he said.
No backing down from critics
Singson also belittled disparaging comments against him on the Internet, saying that many Internet users post comments anonymously.
Asked about his "fearsome" reputation as a politician and warlord, he said he has made many enemies in politics but denied that there is anything to fear about him.
One Twitter user said Congress should reject Ronald's resignation letter and expel him anyway. Singson replied: "Baka di totoong tao yan, marami kasing ganyan eh. May mga sinasabi pero pag tinignan mo di totoo."
He also commented on one Twitter user who called him a liar: "That guy's just angry with me."
Singson denied that he beat up his common-law wife, Rachel Tiongson, after he caught her with another man 2 years ago. Pictures of Tiongson's battered face circulated on the Internet while her lover allegedly landed in the hospital after being mauled by Singson's bodyguards.
"Di ako nambugbog ng babae, allegation lang yun. That was just a picture. I got the doctor's certificate. Hindi siya nabugbog ng ganun kaya siya umatras," he said.
He also pointed out that he was merciful with Tiongson and her lover since he didn't have them both killed.
"Kung mamamatay tao ako, patay na yun. He deserved it," he said.
Bakit ako iiyak sa babae?
Singson refused to answer some of the questions by ANC "Headstart" host Karen Davila and even pretended to be deaf at one point.
"Ang kulit mo!" he told Davila after she pestered him about his real age. (Singson is 69, turning 70 this year.)
He also revealed that he does not shed tears except once when he was disallowed to visit the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., father of the incumbent President Noynoy Aquino.
"I don't cry. Nung kay Ninoy lang. Maski nung namatay ang tatay ko, hindi ako umiyak," he said.
Asked if he cried over his common-law wife, he said: "Bakit ako iiyak sa babae? Ang dami daming babae diyan." He refused to say if he has already found a new girlfriend.
Singson said he takes care of himself by eating good food, exercising and drinking vitamins.
Asked what he learned about Ronald's incarceration, he said he will be even stricter with his children. "Ayokong maulit yan. Monthly ang tests ko sa kanila," he said.
He also said he does not blame Lovi Poe, Ronald's alleged girlfriend, for the congressman's drug problem. The younger Singson earlier claimed that he started using drugs after breaking up with Poe.
"I support Lovi and we thank her family for her all out support when he really needed it," he said.
A confessed animal lover, he also revealed that his experiment to mate a lion and a tiger was unsuccessful.
"Sinubok ko pero hindi mabuntis ng lion yung tiger. Sinubok namin, 3 tiger na yung hinahabol kaya na-heart attack," he said.