Dominguez backs Duterte's sexual abuse accusations vs. priest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against the church in his speeches would often mention a priest in a Jesuit school in Mindanao who had allegedly molested him and his classmates.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who was Duterte's childhood friend and classmate, confirmed that Duterte was not the only victim of a certain Mark Falvey at the Ateneo de Davao University.

"That was an experience many of us went through in school. It happened," Dominguez said.

Years later, Dominguez said that the alumni of the Jesuit-run school would recall the event during alumni homecomings.

"We didn't complain about it. Maybe it was wrong of us... you tried to get over it. Most of us got over it." he said, adding that reporting sexual abuse just wasn't a thing that was commonly done in the 1950s.

Dominguez said he understood Duterte's seemingly opposite approach of bringing the event up at every chance he gets.

"He is a guy who's always for fairness even when we were kids. There was a bully around, he will go after that bully. And I think he looked at this as something unfair where someone at a position of authority took advantage," he said.

"He really has this strong drive for fairness and justice, and for the underdog and it shows," the President's childhood friend added.

'I was not the valedictorian'

On a lighter note, Dominguez was quick to correct other stories repeated by Duterte.

For example, he said he was never class valedictorian. That title instead goes to another classmate who had the same first name.

"I was not the valedictorian. In fact we had a class reunion last year and I said, 'Mr. President, I want to introduce you to the real valedictorian, Carlos Baltazar,'" he said. Despite this, and his constant corrections, Duterte continued to refer to Dominguez as class valedictorian.

Dominguez confirmed that he was, on the other hand, the class salutatorian.

He also recalled that not only were they classmates, they were neighbors as well, and was quick to debunk Duterte's claims that he grew up in poverty.

"His dad was the governor and sometimes when he says 'oh, I lived in the slums,' I said my God, I never lived in the slums and he was my neighbor," he added, laughing.

For Duterte's childhood friend, the President's spiels are a part of his charm, and something that gives him much amusement.

CNN Philippines is reaching out to the Ateneo de Davao for further comment on Mark Falvey.

Catch the full interview on January 23, 7 p.m., on CNN Philippines.