It’s not just President Rodrigo Duterte himself taking flak from the internet about his recent state visit to Russia — now, even his supporters are catching grief over the trip.
That’s why actor Robin Padilla took to Facebook to defend his friends Philip Salvador, Cesar Montano, and Moymoy Palaboy — all actors — against accusations that they spent taxpayers’ money when they accompanied the president on his eventful state visit last week.
Padilla’s incensed tirade was broadcast on Facebook live, then shared by Salvador on his Facebook page on Saturday. In the video, Padilla expresses frustration at the criticisms his friends have been getting.
“If these critics say my friends were given free fare, that’s not true. We are the ones who pay for our fares. We also pay for our own hotel accommodations,” Padilla insisted in English and Filipino.
Padilla also maintained that actors who accompany the president on such visits do so to entertain the Filipino community in the country.
“We fly there for Filipinos. The Filipino in Japan, Russia, wherever we go. We entertain these Filipinos for free. Can you understand that?”
The vocal Duterte supporter added that he and his fellow actors were not booked at the same hotels that Duterte and his cabinet members stay in when on official overseas trips. He also insisted that he and his fellow actors ate at different spots than those frequented by Duterte’s team.
Padilla maintained that the actors paid for “every cent” — but appeared to contradict himself at one point, when he said some money came from supporters.
“Do we look like we don’t have money? We have money, and that money is a gift from our supporters,” he said.
House Speaker Salvador Panelo had previously said that the actors who accompanied the president for the duration of the five-day trip were “his rabid fans.”
“They have been doing that since the presidential campaign,” Panelo added. “As far as I know, these artists came over [to] Moscow on their own. The government did not spend for their fare and hotel accommodations.”
Reporter Sandra Aguinaldo on Saturday posted a picture of Montano and Salvador performing for the Filipino-Russian community on Twitter, quoting Montano as telling the crowd, “We’re not paid [for this].”
— sandra aguinaldo (@sandraguinaldo) October 5, 2019
Padilla is an ex-con who was jailed for illegal possession of firearms in 1994. In 2016, Duterte granted an absolute pardon to the former action star, which restored his civil and political rights and allowed him to travel that same year to the United States, where his wife Mariel Padilla gave birth to their first daughter.
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