Duterte calls critic Kiko Pangilinan 'my friend'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2017 09:27 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday had nothing but good words for one of his critics, vocal opposition leader Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

In an hour-and-a-half speech at the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the Department of Justice in Pasay City, Duterte briefly talked about Pangilinan, saying he "owed" the Senator. 

Duterte also said his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, once wished to meet Pangilinan's wife, actress and singer Sharon Cuneta. 

“Pangilinan is my friend at may utang na loob ako sa kanya. Si Inday (Sara), when she was [in] Grade 6, Grade 5, sabi ko: ‘Anak, anong gusto mong birthday gift?’ Sabi niya ‘gusto ko magkasama kami ni Sharon Cuneta,’” Duterte said.

In another speech during the 56th Anniversary of the Philippine Constitution Association, Duterte said he had to call Pangilinan to express his daughter's wish to have dinner with Cuneta.

“I had to call Sen. Pangilinan. Senator, I owe you for doing this [for] my daughter. I respect you," said Duterte, in a rare cordial statement towards an opposition leader.

It was unclear what prompted the President to talk about his friendship with Pangilinan in both his speeches Tuesday. 

Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party, has been a staunch critic of the President’s policies, particularly the violent war on drugs. 

Duterte made no mention of Pangilinan's criticisms in his speech. The senator could not be reached for comment.

Duterte has rarely criticized Pangilinan. One of the few instances was when he criticized the senator’s law, the Juvenile Justice Act, for supposedly producing generations of youth offenders who grew up without respect for the law.

The President brought this matter up during his Philconsa speech, saying Pangilinan was the “singular person in this country who is responsible for all of this now,” referring to the supposed adverse effects triggered by the Pangilinan law.