MANILA - Former Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot better watch his back constantly following President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement yesterday that he ordered the retired cop's ambush.
Vicente Loot, a former police general who Duterte named as a protector of drug rings, survived a May 2018 attack that left 4 others injured.
Duterte on Tuesday evening said he ordered a hit on Loot but the latter was lucky to have survived. The Palace clarified Wednesday the president, who is more fluent in Visayan, had misspoken in Tagalog when he made the supposed admission of the hit.
“Joke or not, Mayor Loot would be better off minding his physical security 24/7,” Lacson told reporters in a text message.
Lacson, a former police chief, said Duterte should be asked whether he was joking or serious when he made the supposed admission.
“Midway into his term, we should already be familiar with his penchant for saying something as serious as that and dismissing it as a joke afterwards,” Lacson said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said Duterte should clarify his statements because “he sometimes blurts out things that would be misconstrued.”
“On the other hand, let’s assume it is true, he is president, what can you charge him with? Nothing,” Sotto said.
“The Constitution so provides, the president is immune from any suit or whatever.”
Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Duterte's long-time aide, downplayed the president's supposed admission.
"Alam mo naman si pangulo, ganun talaga siya magsalita. Bakit naman niya sasabihin at aaminin na siya ang nagpa-ambush kung siya talaga ang nagpa-ambush? Hindi po yun gagawin ni presidente," Go told reporters.
(The president really speaks that way. Why would he admit that he ordered the ambush if he really did it? The president would not do that.)
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, also a former police chief, refused to comment on Duterte’s statement because he was not around when the chief executive made the supposed admission.
“The context in which he declares something must be seriously considered otherwise he is prone to be quoted out of context as he has always been,” Dela Rosa said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, slammed the Palace's denial of Duterte's admission.
"Kung may Google translator, may Duterte translator din. Iyan si Secretary Sal Panelo," Hontiveros said in a statement, referring to the president's spokesman.
(If there is Google translator, there's also Duterte translator. He is Secretary Sal Panelo.)
"Kapag umamin ng pagpatay ang pangulo, slip of the tongue lang ito kay Secretary Panelo. Pero may 'lost in translation' diyan. At ang lost ay ang katotohanan."
(If the president admitted to killing, it's just a slip of the tongue for Panelo. But something got "lost in translation," and that is the truth.)
Loot was director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Training Service and director of Police Regional Office 8 before retiring.
He later joined politics and won as mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu in 2016.
The administration has several times denied involvement in summary killings of drug suspects.
Early in his administration, Duterte was tagged by confessed assassins in death squads in Davao City during his time as mayor, which the President denied.