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UP Student Who 'Disrespected' Duterte Responds In Open Letter

He sheds light on what really transpired that day
by Andrei Medina | Mar 14, 2016

The student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) who allegedly disrespected Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during a forum last week has aired his side on the matter.

In an open letter posted online, UPLB freshman Stephen Villena, who has been the subject of a bash fest from the mayor’s supporters, said he never meant to disrespect Duterte with his questions.

"Please allow me to provide context to the whole issue. It is my hope that by doing so, people will realize that I was simply posing an academic question which required an academic answer and I in no way intended to disrespect the good mayor," he wrote.

Villena also clarified that the spliced video showing him questioning Duterte did not show the full exchange between them, and that it made him seem like he was being rude to the mayor.

"Before I took the floor to ask my question it was made clear to us that Mayor Duterte was in a hurry to leave the forum as it was getting late. I therefore rushed my question hoping for an immediate answer," he explained.

"And since I did not get a direct answer to my question I requested him to please answer my question directly 'para maka-uwi na sya.' To be clear, it was Mayor Duterte who was in a hurry to leave."

In the end, he expressed his gratitude to the people who stood up for him. At the same time, he said he respected those who felt otherwise, despite his explanation.

Villena also had a message for the tough-talking mayor.

"To Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, I know that you carry so much weight on your shoulders now. You have always been known to be frank and direct when you speak. I believe that among the candidates running for the presidency, you in particular will easily understand a student who only wanted to be frank and direct with you."

Read Villena's full letter here: