PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, June 7, said he did not consider the refusal of Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson to apologize to multimedia personality Kris Aquino as defiance of his order.
He said Uson invoked her right to freedom of expression.
"As I respect the opposition, I must also respect the people in my camp. She has invoked the right of free expression, freedom to express," the President told reporters at the sidelines of the inauguration of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal 2.
"When you invoke that, I could not do anything," he added.
Duterte confirmed, however, that he did apologize to Aquino through Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go.
"Yes, it's true, through Bong (Go)," he said, when asked if he apologized.
The apology was issued after Aquino, youngest daughter of the late senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, called out Uson for posting a video of Ninoy being kissed by two women shortly before he was assassinated on August 21, 1983.
Uson uploaded Aquino's video on her Facebook page to counter the criticisms hurled at Duterte after the President kissed a married Filipino woman on the lips during a gathering with the Filipino community in Seoul, South Korea.
On Wednesday, June 6, Duterte already extended his apologies to the Aquino family for Uson's "disrespectful" post. Uson, on the other hand, declined to apologize, saying that the issue was "not about Kris Aquino."
Earlier Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Uson still enjoys Duterte's trust and confidence, despite her refusal to issue an apology.
"She (Uson) hasn't been fired. For as long as she hasn't been fired, she enjoys trust and confidence because all presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President," Roque said in a press conference. (SunStar Philippines)