MALACAÑANG vehemently denied on Wednesday, September 18, that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the assault on former Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor Vicente Loot in May 2018.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President, who is Bisaya and is not proficient in Tagalog, was misunderstood.
"The Palace wishes to expound on the one-line remark, 'Inambush (ambush) kita animal ka, buhay pa rin,' of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, referring to former Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot, during a speech before the newly appointed government officials last night, September 17, in Malacañan," Panelo said.
"'Inambush kita, buhay ka pa' is uttered by a Bisaya President who is not proficient in Pilipino, the vernacular language used in the capital city of Manila and in most areas in Luzon," he added.
Loot and his family survived the ambush at a wharf in Daanbantayan, Cebu on May 13, 2018.
Duterte, in his latest speech, said: "General Loot, p***** i** mo, nanalo pa ng mayor. In-ambush kitang animal ka, nabuhay pa rin (General Loot, you son of a b****, you even won as a mayor. I ambushed you, yet you're still alive)."
Panelo, however, stressed that what Duterte wanted to say was, “Inambush ka na, buhay ka pa (You were ambushed, yet you're still alive).”
He said it was "silly and absurd" to assume that the Chief Executive was behind Loot's ambush.
"That has been his line as shown by the transcripts of some of his previous speeches every time he touches on the topic of General Loot’s ambush," the Palace official said.
"Let us be clear and categorical: The President did not order the ambush of Gen. Loot. It is silly and absurd to conclude that PRRD is behind the ambush just because he misspeaks the Pilipino language which is not his native tongue or first language," he added.
Panelo was also confident that Filipinos were "already familiar and used" to the language of Duterte who "invariably uses a mixture of English, Bisaya and Pilipino in communicating with the nation." (SunStar Philippines)