Duterte: country first before friendship

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 May) – “My loyalty to you as a friend ends where my loyalty to my country begins,” incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said as he vowed to serve the best interests of the Filipino people when he assumes the post on June 30.

Duterte’s statement paraphrases the late President Manuel Quezon’s famous quote, “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.”

In an interview with reporters Sunday dawn, Duterte said he and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, his spiritual adviser and top campaign financier, have remained friends, despite reports the latter was disappointed for shutting him out in the selection of his Cabinet members.

“Si Pastor nagtatampo hindi nman yung tampo na may galit, pero yung tampong ‘bakit ako hindi nyo naman sinama. Bakit hindi nya isinali sa mga meeting (Pastor was disappointed but not in a way that he was angry for shutting him out in the meeting),” said Mike Abe, the evangelist’s spokesperson, over ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol on Friday.

Duterte, however, is taking the issue with a grain of salt since it was Quiboloy’s aide who came out with a statement and not his friend himself.

He said he has yet to communicate with Quiboloy.

But the incoming President emphasized that he will not compromise his work as the country’s chief executive.

“Let me be very clear. Policy ko vis-a-vis sa government and my decision and my choices of people who will run the government. My loyalty to my friends ends when the interest of my country begins.”

He added that he was not consulting anyone in choosing members of his Cabinet, not even the Search and Selection Cluster of his Transition Committee who is assigned to identify, vet and recommend to the President a list of qualified personalities.

“I never consulted anybody. They (Search and Selection cluster members) just have to go over kung kailan sila pinanganak (when is their birthday), track record. Nakikinig ako sa kanila (I listen to them) but I decide and I do not take into consideration friendship…  (that’s why) I am forced to come out with this statement and I would say it again: my loyalty to you as a friend ends where my loyalty to my country begins,” he said.

When he takes over the Presidency, he said that he would work for the best interests of the Filipinos by not allowing anybody to “color my choices and decisions in government.”

Duterte also defended his choice of Cabinet members by saying he needs brilliant people with managerial skills to run the government’s top national agencies.

He added that prospective Secretaries are not necessarily holding a profession in line with the function of a department but “it would help if you have the profession managing that particular department”.

“For example, DOH (Department of Health), just because it is health matter doesn’t mean I have to appoint a doctor. Lahat ay managerial, that’s why, you need brilliant people. Managerial lahat yan,” he said, adding someone can be “an expert on this machine and this equipment” but may not know how to manage people and run a government. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)