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Duterte on Lorenzana: ‘Matagal iyan sa US, alam ko agent iyan’

President Rodrigo Duterte has once again roasted his own Cabinet official—this time, it’s Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, whom he described as an agent who stayed in the United States for a long time.

Duterte made the remark at the 120th anniversary of the Department of Justice on Tuesday night when he recalled how he met Lorenzana when he was still Davao City mayor.

He had nothing but praises for Lorenzana, whom he described as an agent of the US.

“After that we became friends but ano, eh bumilib ako sa tao. When I was shopping for my Cabinet, I remembered him. Eh talagang honest, tapos istrikto,” he said.

“So magpunta ‘yan… Matagal na ‘yan sa America siya. Alam ko siya eh, agent ‘yan siya. Pero okay lang, sabi ko kasi magbolahan naman kaming dalawa, eh ‘di ito sabihin mo sa kanila: Ako, many—many issues ako diyan sa ano. I do not hate America,” he added.

In a text message to reporters on Wednesday, Lorenzana said that Duterte’s remark should be taken as a joke.

“That was meant to be just a joke—CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] agent daw. He started saying that as early as when we started last year. Not only me but Sonny Dominguez, Jun Yasay and others,” he said, referring to the Finance Secretary and former Foreign Affairs Secretary respectively.

Lorenzana said he stayed in Washington DC for 14 years from 2002 to 2016.

“But all those years I was working at our Embassy as a diplomat: first as the Defense Attaché and after retirement from the Army as Veterans Attaché. We at the Cabinet do not take those remarks by the President seriously and neither should you,” he added. — RSJ, GMA News