Duterte chooses country’s interest over friendship

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  • Duterte said his friendship with friends ends where the interest of the country begins
  • The incoming president’s remarks came after Pastor Quiboloy’s camp expressed disappointment over alleged snub by Duterte’s camp after the May 9 election
  • Duterte reiterated his decisions to appoint people to the Cabinet was his alone, and have never been influenced by anyone

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has broken his silence following allegations that he has distanced himself from long-time friend Pastor Apollo Quiboloy who admitted through a representative he was hurt by the former’s snub after the May 9 election victory.

In an apparent response to the claim of Quiboloy’s camp that the religious leader was eased out from Duterte’s core group who are responsible for shortlisting candidates for the next administration’s Cabinet, the presumptive president stressed that he will not allow anyone, including his closest of friends, to influence his decisions.

“Let me be very clear, my friendship with my friends ends where the interest of the country begins,” Duterte told reporters on Saturday. “I would, as much as possible, make you happy if you are my friend, but I will not allow anybody to bring color to my decisions in government.”

Duterte said it will always be the interest of the country that remains the priority of his administration.

“From now on, it is always the interest of the people of the Republic of the Philippines that counts, period,” Duterte quipped.

Quiboloy’s spokesperson, Mike Abe, earlier said in a radio program that the self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God” was deeply hurt after he was not included in the selection group that screened Duterte’s incoming Cabinet officials.

However, Duterte clarified that his decisions in the selection process was his alone and have never been influenced by anybody.

Ako lang [Just me]. I never consulted anybody. I do not consult anybody. Nakikinig ako sa kanila [I listen to them], but I decide. I do not take into consideration friendship,” the incoming president explained.

Quiboloy, who actively campaigned for Duterte, is one of the closest friends of the former Davao City mayor for a decade now.

His last conversation with Duterte was on May 10 around 10 pm, a day after the national election, Abe said.

Earlier, Duterte’s campaign spokesperson Peter Tiu Laviña extended an apology to Quiboloy’s camp but explained that the former mayor’s staff may have been overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers who wanted to personally greet him.

Laviña added it was never intentional to ‘snub’ Quiboloy and that Duterte had always wanted to consult and accommodate everyone.

“The mayor may want to consult Pastor Quiboloy on some of the nominees he has already named and some who were not yet named,” he said.

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