The Philippine Star

No plan to box Quiboloy out, says Duterte spokesman


DAVAO CITY – There is no deliberate effort to deny Pastor Apollo Quiboloy access to his close friend, incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.

Peter Laviña, spokesman for the Duterte transition team, made this clear yesterday in reaction to Quiboloy’s admission last Friday that he was hurting from what he felt was a snub by the incoming president after the latter’s poll victory.

Laviña said Duterte has been trying to accommodat­e all his well-wishers but is overwhelme­d by their numbers. Duterte himself has not yet issued a statement on the issue.

“It’s part of the process… there is no deliberate plan to box him or ease him out. These things happen,” Laviña said in a press briefing.

“If there were a few who were not entertaine­d, these are small portions. We extend our apologies,” he added.

He said they are ready to patch things up with Quiboloy, who was a major supporter of Duterte during the campaign. The pastor has even volunteere­d to lend his private jet or helicopter to Duterte to help him in his travels.

“Hopefully, we can find a way so they can meet not only as friends. The mayor may want to consult the pastor on the nominees,” he said, referring to the founder of the religious sect called Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name.

The pastor said he was just wondering why suddenly he could not get through to his close friend.

He clarified what pains him is not about not being consulted on Duterte’s choice for his Cabinet members but on being snubbed by the incoming president.

Laviña also stressed Duterte would respect human rights and uphold the Constituti­on, a message relayed to him by US President Barack Obama when the latter called to congratula­te him.

“The mayor is a lawyer. He will uphold the Constituti­on, which includes the Bill of Rights. I think it was a friendly conversati­on between the two leaders,” Laviña said.

When asked if he thought Obama was alluding to alleged human rights abuses linked to Duterte, Laviña said: “These are standard statements of congratula­tions and expression of concern about mutual relationsh­ip between two nations.”

A White House statement released on Wednesday said Obama had cited the US and the Philippine­s’ “shared commitment­s to democracy, human rights, rule of law and inclusive economic growth” during his conversati­on with Duterte.

Duterte, known for his tough talk and iron-fisted rule as mayor of this city, has been accused of condoning summary executions as part of his anti-crime campaign.

Human rights groups have accused him of maintainin­g death squads responsibl­e for summary executions of individual­s involved in drugs or in heinous crimes. While denying the accusation, Duterte said he has no problem killing criminals.

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