MANILA - Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella advised reporters on Wednesday to "use creative imagination" when dealing with President Rodrigo Duterte.
"If we follow his (Duterte's) style, let us not put a period at the end of his statements," Abella said, as he encouraged the media to "understand" the President instead of "taking him literally."
The spokesman said this should be done as the President "carefully calibrates his statements" from time-to-time.
But Abella's technique of giving the President's statements more elbow room for interpretation may lead to more confusion, such in the case when he went back and forth when trying to clarify Duterte's pronouncement of "cutting ties with the United States."
"He said he might. It's not a definite yes, it's not a definite no. The breaking up may not necessarily be a breaking up of alliances. It may, but he is not saying that," the spokesman said vaguely when asked for a clear-cut explanation on whether or not Duterte was keen on severing ties with the country's treaty ally.
Though Abella said Duterte is "not leaning towards China, but is just expanding his options," a Palace reporter was quick to point out that cutting ties with the U.S. directly contradicts the idea of expanding possible alliances with other nations.
Abella rounded up loose statements by saying that the President simply "wants an independent foreign policy."
He told reporters that Duterte's pronouncements may only be considered as policy if and when it is followed by "an official action."
The President's choice of words and how his cabinet members interpret them have been the source of controversy as Cabinet members have been trying to decode the 71-year-old firebrand in different ways, while allies have asked him to either tone down or shut up.