Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte refused to feel offended by University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Stephen Villena’s way of questioning during a forum held last Friday, March 11.
Mayor Duterte said, “No. I was once a student. Ganoon talaga ang mga students.
“You don't expect these students to be all prim and proper...
“Those are the ways of the youth and I can understand.”
THE CONTROVERSIAL Q&A PORTION. Over the weekend, Stephen drew flak from netizens as soon as word got out that he disrespected Mayor Duterte during the UPLB forum.
The exchange between Mayor Duterte and Stephen, based on the initial video that circulated on the Internet, went as follows:
Stephen: “Siguro dahil maganda yung mga baril nila, 'no? Mahal siguro yung pagbili ng mga baril na yun.
“Pero sa narinig ko kanina, mas uunahin niyo yung education kaysa sa defense.
“So, ang tanong ko ho, paano niyo ho mai-implement yung ginagawa niyo sa Davao City na ganun kaganda yung mga kagamitan ng mga kapulisan natin sa buong Pilipinas without compensating education?
“Or without increasing the budget of defense? Yun lang po.”
Mayor Duterte: “Alam mo, ganito ‘yan, yung cathedral ng Davao City was bombed twice -- on Easter Sunday and the morning mass on Christmas day.
“Yung airport ko binomba just as the arriving passengers...”
Stephen: “Sana po pakisagot yung tanong ko nang diretso.
“Yung tanong ko lang po, hindi po ba madadagdagan yung budget for defense sa pag-i-implement niyo ng ginagawa sa Davao City sa buong Pilipinas if ever you will be the president?
“So, sana po pakisagot nang diretso, kasi nagtatanong kami ng diretso dito para makauwi na po kayo.”
Mayor Duterte: “Ang naririnig ko sa 'yo kasi, sabi ko baril-barilan lang, e.
“Sabi ko, I am preparing for it, kasi from time to time na nagbobomba.
“So, I have to deploy more policeman na nakikita mo.”
Stephen: “Naiintindihan ko po na kailangan po yun.”
Mayor Duterte: “Yung baril nila maganda yun, kasi sigurado ako, yung baril nila pumuputok.”
Stephen: “Kaya nga po, di ba po mahal po yun? Sabi niyo po kasi kanina, uunahin niyo yung education kaysa sa defense.
“So, siyempre, dahil magaganda yung mga baril nila, siyempre dadagdagan din yung budget for defense.
“Siyempre, may mako-compensate [compromise] na something. Is it education na mababawasan ang budget dahil sa defense?”
Mayor Duterte: “But I told you, at the beginning I said the biggest fee would go to education, then agriculture, then health. What more can I say?
“Wala nga sa priority ko ‘yang ano… So, ano ba ‘yang baril na ‘yan, because ang sundalo talagang may baril.
“But education has the highest priority. That’s number one sa budget namin.”
Stephen: “Sa buong Pilipinas niyo po kasi i-implement, so mahal talaga yung gagastusin natin for defense. Hindi lang naman po sa Davao City.”
Mayor Duterte: “E, kung gusto niyo ganun lang pala, e, di bomba na lang. Palitan ko ng hitsura.”
Avid supporters of Duterte took offense upon seeing how Stephen butt in at least twice just as the former was explaining his position with regard to budget for education and anti-criminality.
At the height of the controversy, some supporters of Duterte reportedly made death threats against Stephen in light of the latter’s supposed “arrogance, disrespectful attitude” during the Q&A portion.
STEPHEN’S OPEN LETTER. But in an open letter published on his Facebook account last night, March 13, Stephen aired his side of the story and why he cut off Duterte at least twice during the Q&A.
Stephen explained, “Before I took the floor to ask my question, it was made clear to us that Mayor Duterte was in a hurry to leave the forum as it was getting late.
“I therefore rushed my question hoping for an immediate answer.
“And since I did not get a direct answer to my question, I requested him to please answer my question directly ‘para makauwi na siya.’”
The UP-LB student further explained, “To be clear, it was Mayor Duterte who was in a hurry to leave.
“The spliced video that was uploaded to the Internet did not show the full exchange between me and Mayor Duterte.
“The cut video somehow made it appear na pinapauwi ko na si Mayor.
“Hindi po, siya po ang nagmadali na umuwi.
“In fact, I only wanted to accommodate his wish to finish the Q&A portion of the forum asap.
“The end result was that the people who only saw the shortened video but did not participate in the forum somehow got the impression that I was bastos, arrogante, walang modo.”
THE MISSING PARTS OF THE VIDEO. Upon watching the longer version of the video taken from the UPLB forum, Duterte made it clear that his anti-criminality campaign will focus on internal insurgencies and drug-related crimes rather than international disputes.
This was even before Stephen's turn to ask questions during the Q&A.
Stephen, however, wanted clear-cut answers with regard to the budget provisions for Duterte’s anti-criminality campaign.
What wasn’t shown in the spliced video was that the Q&A was reportedly limited due to time constraints.
Plus the fact that Mayor Duterte and Stephen’s seemingly tension-filled exchange ended in a less-tense manner.
Mayor Duterte asked Stephen, “Ok? Have I answered your question?”
Stephen replied, “Thank you po, Mayor Duterte.”
In the continuation of Duterte’s press interview earlier today, March 14, he reiterated that he’s all for freedom of expression.
Duterte said, “We respect each other's opinions....
“We always say that it's okay if we disagree.
“And I may not agree with what you said or say, but I will defend your right to say it.
“That's how it should be.”
Duterte also asked some of his "over-enthusiastic" supporters to "relax" and refrain from engaging in acts of cyberbullying.