MANILA - Administration-backed senatorial bet folk singer Freddie Aguilar on Tuesday slammed opposition Otso Diretso candidate Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno for remarks that questioned his qualifications to become a lawmaker.
Diokno, a human rights lawyer, had said the Senate was no karaoke bar in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's comment that Aguilar was a better fit for the chamber.
For Aguilar, Diokno could not spell the difference between an artist and a karaoke singer.
“Ako po ay artist. Wala po akong kinalaman sa karaoke bar. Makikita niyo si ‘Jokeno’ J-O-K-E-N-O ay hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya,” Aguilar told reporters on the sidelines of PDP-Laban's campaign rally in Malabon City.
(I am an artist. I have nothing to do with a karaoke bar. You see, "Jokeno" J-O-K-E-N-O does not know what he is saying.)
“Iba po ako. I am a composer, I’m considered an intellectual. He’s a joke. Hindi nga niya na-differentiate ang karaoke at art eh. Dine-denegrade ba ni ‘Jokeno’ ang contribution ko sa art natin?”
(I am different. I am a composer. I am considered an intellectual. He's a joke. He could not even differentiate karaoke from art. Is "Jokeno" degrading my contribution to our art?)
Diokno last week chided Duterte for saying that Aguilar would be a better senator than him as he was no match for the 66-year-old musician, who the President called the "face of Filipino music."
"Tatanggapin ko naman na mas magaling kumanta si Freddie Aguilar kaysa sa akin," Diokno told reporters after the People's Choice Movement formally endorsed him and 9 other candidates.
(I admit that Freddie Aguilar can sing better than me.)
"Papayag na sana ako sa sinasabi ng Pangulo na mas bagay si Freddie Aguilar sa Senado kung ang Senado ay karaoke bar. Pero ang Senado ay hindi karaoke bar. Sa Senado gagawa tayo ng batas," he said.
(I was going to accept what the President said that Freddie Aguilar was a better fit for the Senate, that is if the Senate were a karaoke bar. But the Senate is not a karaoke bar. At the Senate, we are supposed to make laws.)
Diokno said Duterte should put his claim to test, urging Aguilar to participate in a debate.
"Kung gusto malaman ng Pangulo at ng taong bayan kung sino ang mas may kakayahan na maging senador, eh di iharap niya kaming dalawa, mag-debate kami," he said.
Aguilar is one of 12 senatorial bets being endorsed by the President. Duterte has described him as a nationalist whose songs “carry a social message” that strike a chord among ordinary Filipinos.
During the presidential campaign in 2016, he was among artists who penned and sang jingles and odes to Duterte.
The songwriter has yet to participate in televised debates where national issues are tackled.