Former spox Panelo among artists for ‘very tired’ Duterte online concert

August 26, 2020 - 1:07 PM
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Panelo in South Korea
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a meeting with the Filipino community at the Grand Hilton Convention Center Seoul in South Korea on June 3, 2018. (Presidential photo/Toto Lozano)

As some local artists volunteered to serenade President Rodrigo Duterte this coming Sunday, observations surfaced on the inclusion of chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo in the lineup of performers.

Panelo, a former spokesperson of the chief executive, was listed as one of the personalities who will supposedly perform for the latter through a virtual concert on August 30, Sunday from 2 p.m. onwards, as announced by NDMstudios.

The group, which is led by singer Jimmy Bondoc, calls itself Volunteer Artists for Duterte who plan to sing for the president who the former claimed looks “very tired.”

“Mahal naming Pangulong Duterte… gusto po namin kayo aniyayahan panoorin ang aming online concert para sa inyo. We just want to sing for you,” the singer said in an invitation video.

“To be honest, you look very tired. Kami po ay nasasaktan para sa inyo, so we want to sing for you, just like the good old days. Dahil alam namin ‘pag Sunday, kahit paano, baka kayo po ay nagpapahinga sa bahay,” Bondoc added.

Performers in the lineup include Freddie Aguilar, Dulce, Imelda Papin, Njel de Mesa, Chad Borja, Moymoy “Moymoy Palaboy” Macasero and Tina Paner.

Current and past appointees of the Duterte administration are also among the personalities listed.

These are Overseas Workers Welfare Administration deputy administrator Mocha Uson, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica, former Tourism Undersecretary for Advocacy and Public Affairs Kat De Castro and former OWWA deputy administrator Arnell Ignacio, among others.

Bondoc, a staunch supporter of the president, was also appointed as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Assistant Vice President for Entertainment in 2016.

Meanwhile, aside from Panelo and Belgica, personalities like lawyer Larry Gadon and blogger Banat By who are not usually regarded as singers were likewise listed as performers.

This was noticed by the local online community who criticized the need for an online concert and claimed that it could’ve been offered as a fundraiser “for people who actually need money, food, and healthcare support.”

“Sana para sa mga frontliners na lang, mas deserve pa,” wrote another Twitter user.

“‘Yung mga medical frontliners natin pagod na mentally and physically!! ‘Yung mga teachers and students nahihirapan sa pa din for online class or blended f**king learning… mga tuta,” responded another online user.

Bondoc defended the initiative on Tuesday and pointed out that there is “nothing wrong with singing for a friend” amid challenging times.

“We have sung for frontliners, for many charities, for affected musicians, and more. Now, we just want to sing for our friend. God bless all of the detractors. I am really praying for you. May all this hate leave all of our hearts and our lives,” he wrote on Facebook.

‘Fallback’ career 

Meanwhile, there were others who questioned the inclusion of Panelo, a government official, in the performers’ list as they claimed of not being aware that he could sing.

“Looolz. ‘Concert.’ And a number of these guys aren’t even musical artists (like “Sal Panelo” and Gadon),” a Filipino commented.

“Kelan pa naging ‘artist’ yang si Panelo at Belgica?” another Twitter user asked.

“The fact that Panelo is one of the top-billed performers represents everything wrong in this farce we call the government,” commented another online user.

Panelo, apart from being a government official, is reported to compose songs and play the piano as a hobby.

In a September 2016 interview with Esquire Philippines, the legal counsel admitted that singing is his “fallback” in terms of his career.

“I used to have a television show. Have you heard of Arthur Manuntag? The top balladeer of the country? Nag-duet kami sa RJTV, seven years ago, eight years ago,” he told the magazine.

Panelo in a November 2016 interview with The Philippine Star likewise shared that his mom had told him he was “singing” instead of crying when he was born.

“As a child, I used to go caroling with kids in our neighborhood, but it was I who did the singing mainly,” he added.

“I’ve composed about 20 songs, making the tunes and lyrics myself. I made a song for my granddaughter Ysabel. During my son Salvador Jr.’s wedding, I composed a song entitled ‘You Are the Love of My Life.’ I also created a song in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Panelo said.

Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Coordination Office in November 2018 also shared a video of the legal counsel playing on the piano before.

“Sec Sal sees a baby grand and plays a song he himself composed. If you listen closely, you will hear, ‘You..are the love of my life..'” she wrote.