President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government’s efforts in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 3, 2020. (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Instead of trading insult with insult, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno took the high road and instead traded President Rodrigo Duterte’s late night address to the nation filled with a torrent of insults and curses directed at him with a joke via a tweet saying he just learned that he was summoned to the ‘principal’s office’ last night because of his teeth.

The former dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and son of the late senator Jose W. Diokno volunteered to lawyer for urban poor dwellers of Sitio San Roque in Barangay Pag-asa, Quezon City, who were arrested by authorities on Wednesday for protesting the lack of food distribution. 

He also took the case of a citizen accused by the NBI of possible violation of the anti-fake news provision of the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” as ‘inhumane’. Diokno drew the ire of the president after he expressed his opinion against the government’s actions in handling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

He advised people on what to do if they get subpoenaed by the NBI.

He also advised government officials to instead focus on delivering services to the people instead of going after critics of the government.

These did not sit well with Duterte who insulted Diokno’s loss in the senatorial race last year because attributing it to Diokno’s teeth.

“Itong si [Chel] Diokno, magsalita parang janitor. At saka tumakbo ka ng senador, eh hindi kayo … binoto ng tao. Alam mo kung bakit? Pwede kitang biruin? ‘Wag kang magalit. Alam mo kung bakit hindi ka nanalo? Kasi kalaki ng ngipin mo. Magsalita kalahati ng panga mo lumalabas”.

Diokno, a well-known human rights lawyer, was serious in his earlier tweet saying he has clients who are sick and hungry, but never did he instigate people to turn violent or break the law.  He says he can take it is the president wants to insult him but he suggested that the president focuses his energy on answering the needs of the people.

(Rommel F. Lopez)