MANILA - Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno on Saturday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to instead focus on addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in response to the latter's tirade against him in a public address Friday night.
In an interview on DZMM radio, Diokno, who ran but lost his senatorial bid under the opposition ticket in 2019, said the administration should concentrate on providing relief assistance to poor Filipino families affected by the crisis.
"Sanay naman tayo diyan sa mga ganiyan na salita ni Pangulo, pero sana hindi mawala focus niya do'n sa problema ng bayan," he said.
(I'm used to the disparaging remarks made by the President, but hopefully he won't lose focus on the country's problem.)
While he was surprised at Duterte's latest tirade against him, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chair couldn't help but make light of the situation.
"Para akong pinatawag sa principal's office at hinahanap ngipin ko," he said.
(It was as if I was called to the principal's office and they're looking for my teeth.)
Asked what could have irked the President, Diokno said he was as well puzzled.
"Hindi ko rin alam. Ginagawa ko lang sa tingin ko ano ang tama," he said.
(I don't know. I was only doing what I think is right.)
Diokno had on Thursday revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has summoned social media users who expressed sentiments on the government's response to the pandemic.
The bureau then explained the subpoenas were issued to those who spread fake news about the coronavirus crisis.
Putting differences aside, Diokno urged the Duterte administration to move forward and act as one to overcome the crisis.
"Gawin natin ang gusto ng Kongreso na bayanihan to heal as one. We want the government to act as one. Naghihintay ang taongbayan para makita ang ayuda na inaasahan nila," he said.
(We should do want Congress wants, which is to work together to heal as one. We want the government to act as one. The public is waiting for the relief assistance.)
Diokno also commended the President for firing a government official, who sought for an investigation on Vice President Leni Robredo's relief efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Maganda itong leksiyon sa lahat ng nasa pamahalaan. Kung sila'y maglalabas ng public statement, dala-dala nila siyempre 'yong kanilang tanggapan. It's something we should all remember. Maayos ako doon sa ginawa ni Pangulo," he said.
(It should serve as a lesson to all government workers. In releasing public statements, they are carrying the name of their organizations. It's something we should all remember. I agree with what the President did.)