By Hannah Papasin and Mira Nicole Magbanua
TALISAY CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Rodrigo Duterte, 16th president of the Fifth Philippine Republic, is leaving the Palace high noon of 30 June 2022, leaving behind, to critics, a trail of blood and innocent lives lost, but to allies, a nation saved from decaying into criminality and the grip of narcopolitics.
As he prepares to step down more than a month from now, Duterte made his way to a private resort here to thank key supporters here as he vowed to never stop the fight against corruption, criminality, and or course, drugs. He did not say how.
“Drugs destroy families,” Duterte said, addressing a crowd of supporters that included among others the host of the event, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vallacar Transit, Incorporated Leo Rey Yanson, his mother Olivia, and sister Ginette Yanson-Dumancas.
By reaffirming his public denunciation of drugs, Duterte has come full circle since he was sworn into office in June of 2016 when he was elected President of the country.
“All it takes is for one member of the family to be into drugs to turn it dysfunctional,” he says.
His address was quite naturally peppered with “[email protected] ina”, his favorite expletive, and at one point, a crisp “[email protected]” and a very snappy “linti”.
Duterte reserved his strongest curses against those in government who are involved in drugs, especially those using their position to exert influence on the bureaucracy.
“I am a prosecutor,” he tells his audience, “thus I know the extent of corruption within the system.”
He says that he does not want the country to turn into another Mexico, a narcostate controlled by the likes of Joaquin Guzman aka El Chapo, cartels like the Sinaloa, who are in cahoots with people in government.
“I KILL CRIMINALS”
And, in usual Digong fashion, he readily admitted to killing people, specifically criminals.
“The International Criminal Council is right,” he says of allegations that he kill people, “I kill criminals.”
He bristles at comparison to Russian President Vladimir Putin though.
“Putin kills innocent children, women,” he says, “whereas I kill criminals.”
Here, his voice became emotional.
“You think I enjoy killing? I don’t. But I’m not doing this for myself. I do this for you and your children so that they may be safe.”
If there is one thing that Duterte says he was keen on eliminating, it was corruption.
“I didn’t publicize it, but I have had people removed for corruption,” he says.
He cited six Cabinet members who were removed, and the 40+ in Immigration who were embroiled in the pastillas scheme.
The pastillas scheme — so-called because it involved money rolled up and wrapped like that of the native milky candy — involved grease money from Chinese nationals who were allowed backdoor entry by the staff of the Immigration. Reports revealed the money involved that fattened their purses ran up to tens of billions.
PROMISES MADE AND FULFILLED
As Duterte mulls over his final days as President, he enumerates what his administration has done so far and laments how he had very limited time to do all the things he would have wanted done.
“I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep,” he says, adding that so far, he has fulfilled all the promises he had made at the start of the term.
These include maintaining law and order, free education, infrastructure, medical assistance, and anti-corruption.
He thanked his supporters, saying the “steadfastness in [their] faith” in him gave him resolve in doing what he had meant to do.
“We have made great strides in infrastructure, in law and order, in our campaign against corruption because of your trust in me,” he says.
He also thanked those who supported not just him but also daughter Sara, presumptive Vice-President of the Republic.
“There is more room for progress and development,” he addresses the crowd, adding, “this has been a role of the lifetime.”