On President's 4th year in power, Sotto says opposition should mend ties with Duterte

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 08:05 PM

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III leads the resumption of the upper chamber’s hybrid session on May 26, 2020. Alex Nueva España, Senate PRIB/File Photo

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said opposition members should try to make amends with President Rodrigo Duterte, saying it would be more beneficial if opposition members can help the government find solutions instead of just hurling criticism.

The President may be more open to hear out the opposition if they are in good terms, Sotto told reporters in an online press conference.

"Pintas ka nang pintas sa'kin tapos ang gagawin ko babatiin kita? Tigilan mo kakasuntok sa akin tapos magbati tayo," he said.

(If you keep on criticizing me, do you expect me to greet you? Stop throwing punches and then that's when we make amends.)

Sotto cited the relationship between the President and late House Speaker Prospero Nograles, who was once the political nemesis of Duterte in his bailiwick Davao City.

"Tingnan mo si Boy Nograles. Kaaway niyang mortal sa Davao noon. Nung biglang nag-Presidente siya, in-appoint niya 'yung kaibigan [ni Nograles], tinulungan niya pa 'yung anak," the Senate President said.

(Look at Boy Nograles. They were mortal enemies in Davao before. When Duterte became president, he even appointed Nograles' friend and helped his son.)

After 3 decades of rivalry for the mayoralty of Davao City, Nograles and Duterte mended ties in 2015, when the 22nd House Speaker of the Philippines backed the presidential bid of now-chief executive Duterte.

Nograles' son, former Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, was appointed as Duterte's Cabinet Secretary in November 2018 after dropping his plans to run for the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections.

The Senate President said it may also be helpful if the opposition would provide alternative solutions instead of just criticizing the government.

"Wala pa akong naririnig na kritisismo na may kasamang proposal. Ang maganda sana kung mag criticize ka, mayroon kang suggestion kung paano gagamutin 'yung crini-criticize mo," he said.

(I have not heard of a criticism that is coupled with a proposal. It would be good if you have a suggestion on how to fix the issue you are criticizing.)

"Kung saan medyo makakatulong, why not? [Kaya lang] there are others na pipintasan agad eh," he said.

(If the criticism helps, why not? But there are others who just keep on finding faults.)

Sotto did not say if he was referring to opposition members in the Senate or government oppositors in general.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he has "never let politics dictate [his] lawmaking."

"Since 2016, despite serious disagreements on certain policy issues, I have always given my cooperation in the crafting of legislation that serves needs of our people," Drilon told reporters in a text message when asked for comment.

"My recent proposed solutions to urgent matters of concern on the COVID pandemic should be an indication of our readiness to help this government," he said.

"However, if by working together means a wholesale submission to their policies, then we will be doing a great disservice to the country," he said. 

"The working opposition will support policies we believe will benefit the people and uphold the national interest but we will vigorously oppose policies we believe are inimical to the welfare of the nation," opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said in a separate message.

Drilon said it is not irresponsible for an opposition senator to both "stand ready to help this government when needed" and "stand prepared to call out this government when its policies are contrary to our avowed principles."