MANILA - Was someone provoking the President? Or was he just tired?
Sen. Richard Gordon on Saturday gave either of the two possibilities when asked why he thought President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed a slew of insults against him in a speech on Thursday.
In a radio interview, Gordon told of how he would speak his mind, citing his opposition to the administration's call for the revival of the death penalty and that he does not support government's position on China and the West Philippine Sea dispute.
The senator said this may have reached the President, but the situation got inflamed.
"...[I]to lately hindi ko alam baka may nanggagatong sa presidente o baka napapagod lang siya, maaaring sa kapaguran niya, may nabanggit siya siguro nasasaktan siya, ginatungan, alam niyo naman diyan maraming nagpapalakas, magaling manggatong," Gordon said.
(Lately, I don't know maybe someone is provoking the President or maybe he's just tired, and maybe because of exhaustion, someone told him (about his comments) and he got offended, he was provoked, you know how many out there want to be in the President's good graces, good at provocation.)
"Eh ba't kami mag-aaway eh kami ay andiyan para magtulungan, tulungan ang gobyerno, tulungan ang Presidente na mag-succeed," he said.
(Why would we fight when we're there to work together, help government, help the President succeed?)
In an event of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Pasay City on Thursday, Duterte blasted Gordon for his critique of his appointment of former military and police officers in government.
Gordon had called this "dangerous," saying "civilian authority must remain supreme over the military." He also cited how the President had a "shallow bench" of possible appointees as "he comes from the province.
Duterte asserted his prerogative as President, defending his choice to appoint former top soldiers in his administration. He lashed out at Gordon, even commenting on his physique.
"...‘Yung utak mo Dick, nagtutunaw napupunta diyan sa tiyan mo
(Dick, your brain is melting and it's going to your stomach). You are a fart away from disaster," he said, also comparing Gordon's walk to that of a penguin.
He also made fun of Gordon's failure to get elected to higher office, saying if he wanted to get a top position, he should just start his own company. Gordon failed a presidential bid in 2010.
"Hanggang senador ka lang (You can only go as far as becoming senator)," Duterte said.
Gordon said this surprised him, explaining that his criticism of military appointees "was meant not only to protect the country but his administration." He said he had studied what happened in other countries, where he saw too many appointees from the military.
"Kahit retired na sila hindi mo alam ang mangyayari in the future, baka magtulakan," the senator said.
(Even if they are already retired, you can't say what might happen in the future, they might have conflict.)
He reiterated he took no offense of the President's tirade.
Asked if he intends to speak to the President over what happened, Gordon, who is from the Senate majority, said he would not bother the chief executive about it.
"I think ako I know him well enough, hindi ko na siya guguluhin diyan, I take no offense sa mga sinabi niyang comments, di tayo dapat balat sibuyas, kasama sa gobyerno 'yan, minsan gagawan ka pa ng issue na di naman totoo," said Gordon.
(I think I know him well enough, I will not bother him about that, I take no offense about his comments, I am not onion-skinned, that's part of being in government, sometimes an issue will be made up about you.)
Gordon said he would maintain a "principled stand" in the Senate, supporting the President's policies that he thinks are right.