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Attacks vs UP Visayas students a 'very natural reaction' from Duterte supporters – Palace

Attacks vs UP Visayas students a 'very natural reaction' from Duterte supporters – Palace

MANILA, Philippines — Students of the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) are free to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte just as supporters of the Chief Executive are free to hit back at them.

“It’s a free country, they can dish out jokes, criticisms,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, referring to the satirical cheer dance performance of some students of UPV that tackled political and social issues that also took swipe at Duterte’s policy in dealing with China.

Panelo also dismissed the chant of the students, saying “Let’s kill the President. Charot!”

Charot” is gay term, which means “just kidding.”

“Oh, it’s a joke. The President also says the word ‘kill.’ They might only be imitating the President,” Panelo said.

Following the now-viral satirical cheer, UPV has condemned the threats and harassment against its students.

“In UP Visayas, we encourage students to think critically and allow them to exercise their freedom of expression. We also assure them of protection while they are inside the campuses. We remind them to exercise prudent in their actions, thus, we denounce all forms of threats and harassment hurled against them,” the university said in a statement.

Sought for comment, Panelo said the criticisms hurled against the students were just “natural” reactions from Duterte supporters.

“Of course, it is natural for them to react. It might appear to them that they (UPV students) were not joking. They might appear to be kidding but they are actually hitting the President. That’s a very natural reaction for supporters of the President,” he said.

Asked if he would advise supporters of the President to stop “harassing” UPV students over the satirical chee, “ the Palace official said, “It’s a free country, as I said. They can react, too.” /kga