SENATOR Richard Gordon on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte should stop saying he will kill drug dealers and drug pushers.
“The President is my friend. We both became mayor but I don’t want the President to be talking and talking about what he plans to do. What he should say is, there are too many unresolved [killings] and we will solve them,” Gordon said.
“I’ll just suggest that we change our tourism slogan to ‘Wow PI!’ (Wow Pu—ina! from Wow Philippines). Hopefully the President will hear this and (realize) it’s already too much,” added Gordon, a former Tourism secretary.
During the fifth hearing of the Senate committee on justice, which is investigating the rising number of drug-related killings, Gordon said he is opposed to the President being so vocal about his drug war plans.
“The President is noisy. He is very noisy,” Gordon said, adding that the noise is not helping the war on drugs, but alarming local and international human rights groups.
He added that Duterte’s repeated endorsement of the killing of drug suspects if they resist arrest leads to the misconception that he sanctions the use of unnecessary violence.
“That’s not right… He stumbled on his own sword because he was talking and talking, so that the whole country is [now] being accused of allowing such things to happen,” Gordon said.
In the latest flare-up, Duterte lashed out at critics who likened him to Hitler, but said he would be “happy to slaughter” three-million drug users.
Duterte, whose remarks drew a firestorm of criticism, later apologized to the Jews, saying he did not intend to derogate the memory of the millions who were killed by the Nazis during World War II.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said it was right for Duterte to say sorry, but said such apologies should be kept to a minimum.
“He should be careful of what he will say because hearing him say sorry is becoming tiresome. Saying sorry has lost its value,” said Lacson.
“What’s the use of saying sorry when in the next vein, he would again say sorry for things he will say?” asked Lacson.
“This should be the last sorry. He should be more careful next time,” Lacson said.
Instead of talking too much, Gordon proposed that the President order the police to arrest and investigate those involved in cases of unexplained killings.
The senator had expressed concern over the rising number of unexplained drug-related killings, which he said the President and the police must address.
But Gordon said he agreed with the President’s stand that the United States and other countries should not interfere with the country’s anti-drug operations, noting that the Americans had no moral superiority to investigate possible abuses against Filipino drug suspects due to their own record of police killings.
“One dead is one dead too many. It should be investigated, but not by them,” Gordon said.
At the same time, Gordon slammed the United Nations and the foreign media for highlighting the unresolved deaths in the Philippines, noting that there are more such deaths in other countries.
In the US city of Chicago alone, he said, there were 545 unresolved deaths, compared to the 3,000 drug-related deaths for the entire Philippines.
“Chicago has become the crime capital of the USA. As of 2016, Oct. 1, 2016, there have been 545 killings in Chicago. In the Philippines, there are 3,000. That’s for the whole country,” Gordon said.
“One killing is bad but the whites are patronizing. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” he added. “Why is UN not questioning the US for the Chicago killings?”
Gordon insisted that the rule of law is still present in the Philippines as the Senate continues to investigate on the killings.
“The rule of law is still amongst us. The problem is the rule of law will only happen if someone will testify,” he added.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch Duterte ally, defended the President, saying that his threat to slaughter 3 million drug users should not be taken as genocide.
“A threat is just a threat. It may or it may not happen. Nothing happened yet. It is not genocide,” Alvarez said at a news conference.
“Any leader can threaten a criminal, but if the criminals start threatening law-abiding citizens, then it’s an entirely different story,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the media were partly to blame because the President’s recent statements could be taken out of context.
Besides, Alvarez said, every public official is bound to commit mistakes.
“We all commit mistakes. We are only human and bound to commit mistakes,” Alvarez said, adding that it was good that the President was humble enough to apologize when he realizes his lapses.
He also dismissed criticism of Duterte’s lack of diplomacy.
“We have elected a President and not a diplomat. Diplomacy is a matter of style. Let’s respect that. His priority is our internal problems here at home,” Alvarez said. “If you cannot help, the least you can do is to keep quiet.”
But Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the President should refrain from talking too much and focus instead on his work.
“Perhaps he should not speak until such time he gets to adjust,” said Fariñas, noting Duterte might be having difficulty in the transition from mayor to President of the Republic.
“He speaks for the whole country,” Fariñas said. “I’m sure he’s trying to change. He’s 71 years old. You cannot change overnight. He’s sincere. If he makes a mistake, he admits it.”