President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted to meet former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to challenge his claim that China interfered in the 2016 presidential elections to secure a Duterte victory.
Duterte said he won by 6 million votes against his closest rival, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential race.
“You kept on talking that China help me, where did you get that? Can you get 16 million votes from other nation? Mine was majority 6 million [votes] over your friend,” Duterte said on Monday during his Talk to the People at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City.
He said del Rosario disclose his address and he is willing to meet with the country’s former top diplomat “alone.”
“I want to see you personally. Where can I meet you?,” Duterte said. “Try conveying to me the message where I can find you and I’ll go to you.”
Duterte said he wanted to talk to “some people” in Washington to find out whether del Rosario ordered the withdrawal of Philippine ships from Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea during a standoff with China in 2012.
“You know, we are still investigating it. But you know, you Alberto, once I found that you have, I will charge you, I have many charges against you,” he said partly in Filipino.
For his part, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said del Rosario is just making an allegation to tarnish Duterte’s overwhelming victory in the 2016 elections.
Panelo said del Rosario’s accusation is not true since it is not the character of Duterte to resort to unlawful and unconstitutional means just to win an election.
“You do not need, first, foreign support, and you cannot ask for or receive because that is against the law, the Constitution, and against your character,” Panelo told Duterte during the pre-recorded Talk to the People partly in Filipino.
Duterte served as Davao City mayor for over two decades before his overwhelming victory as the country’s first leader from Mindanao in 2016.
Last week, del Rosario claimed that on Feb. 22, 2019, he received information from a most reliable international entity that high Chinese officials are bragging that they had been able to influence the 2016 elections in favor of Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said del Rosario’s claim was nonsense.
Roque urged Filipino lawyers to study the legal liability of del Rosario who was believed to have ordered the withdrawal of Philippine ships from Scarborough Shoal.
Duterte has repeatedly blamed the past administration over the Philippines losing possession of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.
In a taped public address on May 5, Duterte expressed his intent to launch an investigation into the Philippines’ withdrawal of its ships in the Scarborough Shoal.
He said he wanted to personally ask del Rosario and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio why they let the Philippines withdraw its vessels in the shoal.Duterte added that President Xi Jinping had claimed that Carpio and del Rosario gave the Philippine islands as a “gift” to China