All of my life, I have always been very forgiving and understanding to a fault, especially if the act was committed without malice.
But I cannot let an insult pass and this incident in Butig, Lanao del Sur is something that I will not allow to be just brushed off and forgotten.
On Feb. 9, I flew to Butig, Lanao del Sur as part of my efforts to reach out to the poorest areas in the country and provide assistance to the people.
Traveling with me in two Air Force helicopters were Fisheries Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona, Director Carlene Collado, my executive assistant Bong Piñol, two female staff, one of whom an engineer assigned to the Farm to Market Roads Projects, and two security officers.
During the visit, I made commitments Mayor Dimantang Pansar to deliver interventions worth almost P60-million for the development of Butig, which is claimed by the Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf and the local ISIS Group as the de facto capital of the Islamic Caliphate in the Philippines.
I was excited and ecstatic with all the things that I believed could change the lives of the people of a town in a province where the poverty incidence is 74.3%.
But I was deeply frustrated, pained and insulted when one of the two female staff who joined me in the trip complained when we were back in Manila that two town officials of Butig whose pictures I am posting with this article molested her during the trip.
The staff, a good-looking engineer, said these two officials, whose names I still have to get, touched her butt while she was taking pictures and then laughed.
She said this happened while I was inspecting the damaged school buildings of Butig and I was busy talking to Mayor Pansar.
I cannot let this pass. They not only molested my staff but they also insulted and disrespected me.
Had I known that right there and then, I would have slapped both of them in front of their Mayor.
Through this post, I am informing Mayor Pansar that all the assistance for Butig that I promised to deliver will be put on hold until after these two ill-mannered municipal councilors apologize to my female staff, to me and to the public for what they did.
I am also calling on Interior and Local Government Secretary Mike Sueno to take administrative sanctions against these two barbarians whose act now places the welfare of the whole town of Butig in jeopardy.
(This is the cropped photo of the two Butig councilors who molested a female staff of the Dept. of Agriculture during a visit to the town on Feb. 9, 2017)