SENATOR Richard “Dick” Gordon urged President Rodrigo Duterte to stop threatening to kill drug dealers in his anti-crime campaign, admonishing him to watch his public utterances which are leading him to “fall on his own sword.”
Gordon, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, at a hearing on Monday scored Duterte’s public expression of his desire to kill all those involved in illegal drugs.
While it is right for the President to show his desire to end the drug menace, the senator said it is wrong for him to threaten drug pushers and users with death.
“Maingay ang pangulo, sobrang ingay ng pangulo. Tama lang na ipakita niya na galit siya sa droga pero huwag na siyang mag-ingay na ‘I will kill you.’ Hindi tama ‘yan (The President is noisy, he is too noisy. While it is right for him to show his anger against drugs, he should stop saying ‘I will kill you.’ It is not right)” said Gordon during the resumption of the Senate hearing on the spate of extrajudicial killings.
“Kaya he is falling on his own sword, nadadapa siya sa kanyang espada dahil salita siya nang salita, napagbibintangan tuloy ang bansa na ‘yan ang nangyayari (He is falling on his own sword because he keeps on talking and talking, that is why our country is being accused of allowing such things to happen),” Gordon added.
The President has earned international condemnation for his statements encouraging the killing of drug users and pushers, as well as his use of vulgar language and curse words against those who question his method in dealing with the illegal drug problem.
Duterte recently drew flak for saying that he is willing to kill millions of criminals just like what Hitler did to the Jews.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them all,” Duterte told reporters last week.
The President on Sunday apologized to the Jewish community, saying there was no intention on his part to derogate the memory of the six million Jews who were killed under Hitler.
Gordon said Duterte, who is his friend, may get angry with him but the President has the duty to be a statesman thus he should be careful with his words.
Senator Panfilo Lacson agreed that Duterte should be more careful with his public statements because he may lose the value of his apology if he keeps on making mistakes.
“What’s the point of saying sorry when in the next vein you will again issue a statement that would again make you say sorry?” Lacson pointed out.
The senator said the President should have learned his lesson from the number of apologies he had issued for his statements.
Duterte earlier apologized to former Pangasinan Governor and now Rep. Amado Espino who was accused of being a drug coddler.
“I would like to apologize to you publicly. I am very sorry,” Duterte said.
The President also apologized to board member Raul Sison and former Pangasinan provincial administrator Raffy Baraan who were also included in the list of narco-politicians.
“Somehow, we were negligent in counter-checking during the first report,” Duterte admitted.
Lacson said the President did right in apologizing for his Hitler statement but it would be better if he will carefully choose his words to prevent saying sorry in the future.
Meanwhile, Gordon branded as unfair the statement of the United Nations (UN) criticizing the Philippines in connection with the extrajudicial killings when there are areas in the United States where murder incidents are also high.
The senator particularly cited Chicago where 545 cases of killing have been recorded from October 1, 2016.
Gordon pointed out that the UN has not bore down on the US the same way it is doing to the Philippines.
He noted that while more than 3,000 drug suspects have been killed in the Philippines as of October 2016, the number covers the entire country while Chicago’s 545 deaths is only from a city with a population of 2.9 million.
“One death is too many. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” Gordon said.
Members of the House of Representatives, however, defended the President, saying his cursing and name-calling are part of his growing pains as Chief Executive.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said the President is used to uttering cuss words, even before he became the country’s leader, and cannot just change overnight.
“He would still have six years to apologize. He is just another human being who commits mistakes. And he makes apologies if need be. Nobody is perfect. What is important is that when you realize your mistake, you apologize. That’s courage,” Alvarez said.
“There is no genocide. A threat is just a threat. It may or may not happen. Threatening criminals is not a policy. The officials are entitled to threaten criminals,” Alvarez added.
Fariñas said old habits die hard, and it’s true for Duterte, who used to utter threats as mayor of Davao City.
“We should give him time. Now, he is speaking to a bigger audience from being so used to speaking only in Davao. But the people elected him. I am sure he is trying to change, but he is also 71 years old. He cannot change overnight,” Fariñas said.
WITH LLANESCA PANTI