MANILA, Philippines — A media organization took chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo to task for accusing two journalists who interviewed him of twisting what he insists was a joke “to suit your anti-administration sentiment.”
In a statement released on Friday, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines called Panelo’s claim against Karin Wenger and Ana Santos of Swiss National Public Radio and Television “as deluded as his appreciation of his comic talents.”
“It is bad enough that chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo should blame the unwilling recipients of his — to put it very, very kindly — utterly tasteless humor for failing to discern what, to him anyway, passes for wit,” the media group said.
Panelo was interviewed by the two Friday last week about the war on drugs and other issues facing the Duterte government.
Towards the end, Wenger asked Panelo if he played the piano, to which he said he did, and that he sang and danced as well but was “better in bed.”
Asked how he knew, he answered, “Well, when I was still a bachelor, they said, I fuck like an 18-year-old. I fuck my clothes like an 18-year-old. Because I travel a lot.”
When Wenger didn’t see the humor in his joke, Panelo tried to explain it at length, saying classmates of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to whom he told it found it funny.
Santos later posted about the exchange, prompting Panelo to retaliate, claiming he actually said “I pack my clothes” but that the journalists deliberately misspelled this to “fuck.”
He forwarded News5 the text message he said he sent to Santos, in which he told her they “got it all wrong” and “didn’t get the joke.”
“The punch line was not, ‘I fuck my clothes.’ Rather it’s ‘I pack my clothes … because I travel a lot.’ It was an interplay of words. Obviously you interpreted it wrongly to suit your anti-administration sentiment,” he said.
“Instead of writing about the meat of the interview on the rationale of the issues raised against the Duterte presidency, you conveniently chose to ignore them and highlight a joke you didn’t even understand to put me in a bad light, as well as the President,” he added.
But Wenger stood by their account, telling New5 Panelo’s “sexual joke was inappropriate and uncalled for” and that the audio of the exchange would bear her out.
The NUJP said even if Panelo had “hypothetically, mispronounced, wittingly or otherwise, the ‘p’ in pack as ‘f’ in ‘fuck’ as not a few Filipinos are known to do,” it asked: “How then can he explain this in the context of his being ‘better in bed’? Because he ‘packs like an 18-year old’? How does that even begin to make sense?”
“So, yes, Mr. Panelo, you are right in saying Ms. Wenger and Ms. Santos didn’t get the joke,” the group said. “Neither do we.”
“And we stand with our two colleagues in denouncing your crass display,” it added.