MANILA- Malacañang denied Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier remark that he ordered the ambush on former Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor Vicente Loot last year.
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that the President, who hails from Mindanao, had misspoken the Tagalog language when he said "Inambush kita, animal ka, buhay pa rin.”
"What the President intended to say was: ‘Inambush ka na, buhay ka pa,'" Panelo explained.
"Let us be clear and categorical: The President did not order the ambush of Gen. Loot,” he said.
Loot, a former police general who Duterte named as a protector of drug rings, survived the May 2018 attack that left 4 others injured.
The President earlier claimed that former senator and Interior secretary Mar Roxas was behind the ambush of Loot.
"I wasn’t the one who ordered for his ambush. It was Roxas. Roxas ordered his ambush, not me. Because he was told, ‘Your Garbo, your senior police aide is involved in drugs.’ That was why Roxas was irked. He said, ‘Patayin na lang ninyo para hindi tayo mapahiya,’” Duterte said in Visayan during a speech in Davao City on December 2018.
Panelo also claimed that it would be “silly and absurd” to say that Duterte was behind the attack on Loot “just because he misspeaks the Pilipino language, which is not his native tongue or first language.” Duterte speaks in a variety of languages such as Bisaya, Tagalog, and English.
“The Filipino nation by this time is already familiar and used to the language of the President who invariably uses a mixture of English, Bisaya (Cebuano dialect) and Pilipino in communicating with the nation,” he said.
Loot was director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Training Service and director of Police Regional Office 8 before retiring.
He later entered politics and won as mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu in 2016.