Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Wednesday his tête-à-tête or one-on-one conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte was the Chief Executive’s idea.
Panelo said the televised conversation was introduced to him by Duterte during the President’s recent five-day official visit to Israel.
“Nagkakwentuhan kami. Out of the blue, sabi niya sa akin, Sal, mag-usap nga tayo. Wala naman siyang sinabing sa ere. Basta mag-usap tayo, tanungin mo ako, tapos I will respond to your question. Pinabayaan ko na lang yun. (We talked. Out of the blue, he said to me, ‘Sal let’s talk.’ He did not say on air (televised). He just said, ‘Let’s talk. You ask me, then I will respond to your question.’ I just ignored it),” he said in an interview with dwFM.
Panelo said it was Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go who informed him only last Tuesday that the tête-à-tête will push through on the same day.
“After that, tinawagan na ako ng office. Sir, sabi niya, call time is 2:30, alas tres kayo mag-usap ni Presidente (After that, the office called me. Sir, your call time is 2:30, you and the President will talk at 3pm),’” he said.
During their televised one-on-one conversation, Duterte had discussed pressing issues ranging from his relentless campaign against illegal drugs and corruption to economy and politics.
“Ang tingin ko kay Presidente, maraming beses na kasi siyang ini-interview ng media, pero masyadong short. Kulang ang panahon na magpaliwanag siya ng gusto niyang sabihin. Siguro, he thought of this interview tête-à-tête with me para mas maraming siyang maikukuwento, masasabi (I think the President, he has been interviewed by the media on many occasions but in a very short time. Perhaps he thought of this interview, tête-à-tête, with me so that he can speak more),” Panelo explained.