MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday came to the defense of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, saying the latter had the right to refuse to apologize to actress Kris Aquino.
Uson had drawn Aquino’s ire for posting a video of her father, slain former Sen. Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr., receiving kisses from two women before he was assassinated in 1983. She posted it in defense of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent “playful” kiss with a married Filipina in South Korea.
Duterte confirmed he asked his top aide Bong Go to apologize to Aquino, the youngest sister of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Go had said Uson would apologize to Aquino, but the communications official stood her ground, saying the incident was not about the actress.
The President said Uson invoked the “sacred right” to free speech, which is why he respects her decision not to issue an apology.
“As I respect the opposition, I must also respect the people in my camp,” Duterte said.
“Once mag-invoke ka ng ganoon, wala akong magawa kasi ako mismo sinasabi ko, ’It’s your right to criticize me.’”
In a 23-second video on Facebook posted on Wednesday, Uson defended her post, saying: “This is not about Kris Aquino. Tungkol ito sa paglagay ng malisya sa isang halik. Itinumbas lang sa gawain ng isang leader tulad ng tatay niya. Ms. Aquino, this is not about you,”
(This is about imputing malice on a kiss. I just compared the actions of one leader with that of her dad.)
Aquino then went live on social media on Wednesday and conceded to Uson.
“Mocha, you win. You win because you hurt me and I think that’s what you wanted to do,” she said in a Facebook live video.
Aquino also responded to Uson’s remarks that Duterte’s kiss was not about her but rather about a leader’s actions.
“Sino humalik? Ganun ka-simple (Who initiated the kiss? It’s that simple). I will not add further to that dahil di ko kagalit si President Duterte (because President Duterte is not my enemy),” she said.
In the video of Ninoy getting bussed, it was the women who initiated the kiss; in Duterte’s case, it was the president who solicited a kiss from a Filipina in Korea in exchange for a book.
“I’m sorry, when it is about my mother and when it is about my father, it will always be about me,” she added.
The Aquinos’ youngest daughter also explained that what hurt her the most was Uson’s choice of a video–one that was taken moments before the assassination of her father.
“Alam mo ‘yung feeling na ikaw na ang binato pero ikaw pa ang nag-aabot ng kamay para maayos ito?” she said.
“Kahit anong pagsubok ko na maayos natin ito, ayaw mo ayusin eh,” she added.
(You know the feeling that you were the one hurt but you are still the one trying to fix things? No matter how hard I try to fix this, you don’t want to.)
Aquino ended her video by saying that their tiff was not about her but was about how Filipinos “still love and respect” her late parents.
“Mocha, I’ll end this. You’re right, this was not about Kris Aquino. This was a reminder that Filipinos still love and respect Cory and Ninoy Aquino,” she said.
text DHAREL PLACIDO
This article was originally published on ABS-CBN NEWS.