Netizens were quick to call out chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo on his supposed apology to Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
Panelo apologized to Diaz last Wednesday (July 28) for hurting her feelings, but also insisted that the Zamboangueña weightlifter’s pain was “misplaced.”
“Madali mag-apologize kung mali ang ginawa mo, pero kung wala ka namang ginawa, like for example, ano bang ginawa ko? (It’s easy to apologize if you have done something wrong. But if there’s none, like for example, what did I do?) I just presented the matrix, na wala naman akong kinalaman, (which I don’t have anything to do with), upon the instructions of the President. You cannot apologize for something that you have not committed,” the president’s legal counsel said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Twitter user @leisbeth_recto was blunt with her words in describing Panelo.
UP Professor Sylvia Claudio pointed out that Panelo should not have accused people “using the power of government without basis.”
Val Amiel, co-founder and executive director of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, called Panelo the “the perfect embodiment of a toxic person” who has wronged someone.
Twitter user @jownuss meanwhile mocked Panelo for supposedly playing “mental gymnastics.”
In 2019, Panelo, then-presidential spokesperson, presented six matrices to the press depicting a rumored extensive network of persons plotting to depose Duterte. The names of Diaz and volleyball player and TV host Gretchen Ho appeared in one of the matrices. Panelo blamed the press for their supposedly wrong interpretation of the diagram, but the media merely reported the matrix he had provided during a Palace briefing.
For his part, the president did not even attempt to apologize and instead dismissed the issue by telling Diaz to “let bygones be bygones” during her courtesy call.
"You already have the gold. Gold is gold. It can be good for you to just let bygones be bygones and dwell solely on your victory together with your family and, of course, with the nation," said President Rodrigo Duterte.
Diaz broke the Philippines' Olympic gold medal drought on July 26 in Tokyo, setting a new world record of 224 kilograms total lift and winning the women's 55 kilograms weightlifting competition.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.