Kiko, Risa to Sara: Duty to country more important than debt of gratitude

By Audrey Morallo

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Sens. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros said that their duty to the country is more important than debt of gratitude. File

MANILA, Philippines — Two opposition senators on Thursday reminded Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio that the welfare of the country is more important than any debt of gratitude they owed President Rodrigo Duterte for his support in the previous elections.

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said it was not political ambition that's pushing him to criticize the president's bloody war on drugs but his duty to the country and the Filipinos.

He said that paying one's debt of gratitude also had its limitations and emphasized that he had allocated several projects for Davao City from 2001 up to 2012 during his previous two terms in the Senate.

"Subalit ang tungkulin natin sa bayan at sa kapwa Pilipino ay mas matimbang sa anumang pagkakaibigan. May hangganan din ang tumanaw ng utang na loob (We have a duty to the country and our fellow Filipinos which is more important than friendship. Paying one's debt of gratitude has its limitations)," he said in a statement.

"Nalulungkot tayo sa mga paratang sa atin ni Mayor Sara Duterte sa social media. Marunong din naman tayong tumanaw ng utang na loob sa mga tumulong sa atin sa halalan. Kasama na dito ang Davao City (We are saddened by the accusations of Mayor Sara Duterte on social media. We know how to pay our debt of gratitude to people who helped us during the campaign including Davao City)," the president of the Liberal Party added.

Early on Thursday, Carpio, the daughter of the president, blasted Sens. Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes IV for their "opportunism" in criticizing the mounting number of deaths in the chief executive's drug war to fuel their electoral ambitions.

According to Carpio, the three did not raise any concerns over the governance of Duterte during his time as mayor of Davao City when they were seeking her father's help and endorsement.

She also slammed Tindig Pilipinas, the group which counts the three senators as among its more prominent members, and claimed that this was being used to propel their political plans in 2022.

Hontiveros, who was "saddened" by the mayor's social media remarks,  said that dissent is healthy in a democracy and a way to check and balance the abuse of power and a way to better governance.

The senator added that their criticisms of the administration was not a question of loyalty but a matter of "service, consistency, principle and defense" of the rule of law and human rights.

She said that she knew that the Davao City mayor understood this as a public servant.

"I am grateful for her support during my election campaign and I have honored that support by defending women's and gender rights, health, human rights, and our country's democracy," she said in a separate statement.

The senator said that her criticisms of the drug war should not come as a surprise considering her stance on human rights and extrajudicial killings.

"It should never be viewed as a hindrance," Hontiveros stated, referring to criticisms of Duterte. "I harbor the mayor no ill will and I wish her well."

Pangilinan said that it would be easier for him to attain his "ambition" if he would just be silent amid the rising number of killings and human rights violations.

"Marami sa Partido Liberal ang lumipat na sa PDP-Laban dahil sa ambisyon at sa pulitika. Dapat sana ganun din ako (Many former Liberal Party members have switched to PDP-Laban because of ambition and politics. I should be like this if I am fueled by ambition)," the LP president said.

He underscored that it was not right for killings to happen every day and for billions worth of methamphetamine or shabu to enter the country even if it was headed by a popular leader.

"Nauunawaan ko ang sitwasyon nang binabatikos sa pulitika (I understand the situation of someone being criticized in politics). Halos dalawang dekada na rin akong naninilbihan bilang mataas na opisyal ng bansa (I have been serving in various senior government posts for almost two decades). Masakit ang pinupuna at binabatikos ngunit ganyan ang demokrasya (Criticisms hurt, but they are part of democracy)," he reminded the presidential daughter.

Earlier, Trillanes admitted that he sought the president's ambition but said that this was before he learned that the chief executive was a thief and killer.

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