MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said there was nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte speaking ill of opposition candidates from the Otso Diretso slate.
During a campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan, Duterte said bets from Otso Diretso are heading “straight to hell” and that they do nothing except to criticize.
Armed with a list of the names of the Otso Diretso bets, Duterte took time to vilify all the opposition candidates, some of whom are associated with the once-powerful Liberal Party.
“He can endorse or campaign against [any candidate]. So there’s nothing wrong [with that]. As far as I’m concerned, he’s doing his 'feel'. Ang feel niya, hindi karapat-dapat itong mga kalaban ng kandidato niya. Ano namang masama doon? Kung yung mga senador sa kabila binabanatan din siya,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“Aba eh nangangampanya ka eh siyempre mangangatyaw ka rin sa kabila.”
Asked whether the President has adopted a new strategy in the campaign to promote the candidacies of his preferred bets, Panelo said Duterte will continue to be spontaneous and frank.
The presidential spokesman added he is not privy as to who gave the list of candidates to the President.
In his speech, Duterte questioned the track record of his 2016 presidential election rival Mar Roxas, who has held posts in the legislative and executive branches of government and is credited by some for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country.
"Ano na ang nagawa niya na naiwan sa bayan?" Duterte asked.
(What has he done that left a lasting mark in the country?)
He also tagged Sen. Bam Aquino and the reelectionist's cousin, former President Benigno Aquino III, as "unruly."
"Si Bam Aquino? What have you done really impressive? Puro kayo pasaway -- pinsan mo naging presidente," he said.
(Bam Aquino? What have you done really impressive? You are all unruly, your cousin was a president.)
Duterte also ridiculed Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former soldier who was among the leaders of botched coup attempts against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"Itong Magdalo, nag-revolt sa Makati. Pagdating ng pulis, nag-surrender," he said.
(This Magdalo rebelled in Makati. When the police came, they surrendered.)
The President also lambasted human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, saying his accomplishments pale in comparison to his father, former Senator Jose W. Diokno, a critic of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"Malayo sa tatay niya," he said of the younger Diokno.
Duterte did not criticize opposition candidate Samira Gutoc because the latter "is a woman."
"Si Samira, babae 'yan. Ayoko magsalita. Ganoon ang rule, I have nothing to say to you," he said.
(Samira is a woman. I don't want to talk. That's the rule. I have nothing to say to you.)
Lawyers Erin Tañada and Romulo Macalintal, and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who completes the opposition slate, also got criticized by the President.
Duterte’s offensive came in the wake of administration bets’ repeated rejection of holding debates with the opposition slate and attacks on their credibility.