Panelo says Duterte talk of ordering ambush on former mayor a case of ‘misspoken’ Filipino

In a recent addition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s running tally of “misunderstood” statements (#2,567 for those keeping track at home), presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday was forced to explain away the president’s seeming admission that he’d ordered a 2018 ambush on former Cebu mayor Vicente Loot.

In May 2018, Loot survived an attack in Daanbantayan, Cebu, which left four others injured. Only four months earlier, President Duterte had accused Loot, a former police general, of protecting the local drug trade, ABS-CBN News reported, something Loot has fervently denied.

In a speech on Tuesday before newly appointed officials in Malacañang, Duterte seemed to have no love lost for the former army man.

“General Loot, f*ck you. You still won mayor. I ambushed you, you animal, but you’re still alive,”ABS-CBN News reported the president saying.

Panelo yesterday told reporters at a Malacañang press conference that the real spirit of Duterte’s statements was lost because he was speaking in Filipino when his native language is, in fact, Visayan.

Is anyone buying this?

Here’s what the president said: “I ambushed you, you animal, but you’re still alive.”

Here’s what Duterte meant (according to Panelo): “You were ambushed, you animal, but you’re still alive.”

Panelo further explained: “Let us be clear and categorical: The president did not order the ambush of General Loot. It is silly and absurd to conclude that [the president] is behind the ambush just because he misspeaks the Filipino language, which is not his native tongue or first language.”

Read: Duterte vows to uphold press freedom, accuses Rappler journalists of having stanky pits

According to Inquirer, Duterte has previously denied having a hand in the ambush of Loot. Back in December, the president claimed that his 2016 presidential elections rival, Mar Roxas, was the one who ordered the assault.

In what feels like deja vu, Panelo covered for the president back then as well, saying it was “obviously a joke.”

What are your thoughts on the president’s “misspoken words”? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.

This article, Panelo says Duterte talk of ordering ambush on former mayor a case of ‘misspoken’ Filipino, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!