Palace says president misspoke on ambush

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte misspoke when he admitted ordering the ambush of a mayor last year, the presidential palace said yesterday.

In-ambush kita, animal ka, buhay pa rin (I ambushed you, you animal, but you’re still alive),” the president said in a speech on Tuesday night, referring to Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot.

But presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said what the president intended to say was “Inambush ka na, buhay ka pa (You got ambushed but you’re still alive).”

“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,” he added.

The spokesman blamed it on a president who speaks the Visayan language and who is not proficient in Filipino, the national language.

Mr. Panelo said Mr. Duterte had not ordered the ambush of Mr. 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 said.

“The Filipino nation by this time is already familiar and used to the language of the president who invariably uses a mixture of English, Bisaya and Pilipino in communicating with the nation,” he said.

Mr. Loot, who has been accused of involvement in narcotics trafficking, had survived an ambush in May last year, four months after Mr. Duterte publicly threatened to kill him. — ALB