Duterte: 'Don't hope I'll change my character'
PAMPANGA, Philippines – His was a presidential campaign rooted on the promise of change. But when it comes to his "character," there will be no change at all for President Rodrigo Duterte during his term.
"Do not hope I'll change my character. I am I and you are you. If we meet in one corner and we understand each other... if not, eh 'di pasensiya, talagang magmumura ako maski sino (I'm sorry, I will really curse at anyone whoever he is)," he said on Tuesday, September 27, in a press conference at a shabu laboratory discovered by the police in Arayat.
Speaking off-the-cuff in a news conference, Duterte touched on a wide range of topics – the United States' supposed meddling in the Philippines' affairs, "stupid" columnists who "jump the gun" in criticizing his pronouncements, and "United Nations correspondents" who apparently failed to see the history and context of organized crime in the country.
His cursing, Duterte explained, happens because he is angry. He said he could not be expected to be a "proper statesman" when it comes to matters that infuriate him.
"Saka 'yung iba (To others), may I remind also [that] I'm not trying to be irreverent. Mga pastor kung atakihin ako.... Bakit, sino nagsabi sa iyo na naniniwala ako sa Diyos? Sino naniniwala na may relihiyon ako? 'Yan mahirap diyan, gamit Diyos, impiyerno tang–" Duterte trailed off, a day after he explained he supports the death penalty for heinous crimes just in case God doesn't exist.
(To others, may I remind also that I'm not trying to be irreverent. Those pastors who attack me....Why, who told you that I believe in God? Who'll believe that I have a religion? That's what's difficult there, using God, hell, son of a–)
But without skipping a beat, Duterte added: "What if I say to you now I'm an atheist? An agnostic? Pero naniniwala ako sa Diyos, style lang 'yan (But I believe in God, that's just my style.)"
Duterte, Davao City mayor for over two decades, makes no secret of his disdain for crime, corruption, and illegal drugs. Eradicating all 3 was among his key promises in the 2016 campaign.
Since Duterte's first full day as Chief Executive on July 1, the government has launched an all-out campaign against illegal drugs.
While it has the support of many Filipinos, the country's "war on drugs" has also earned the ire of human rights groups, non-governmental organizations, and even the UN and the US, particularly over the rising death toll with direct or suspected links to the campaign.
Over 1,200 drug suspects have died in police operations around the country while more than 17,000 suspects have been arrested. Another 700,000 or so drug users and pushers have since "surrendered" through a nationwide operation that sees cops literally knocking on the doors of suspected drug personalities.
The campaign has also triggered repeated verbal tirades by Duterte against the campaign's critics. He has criticized the UN, the US, and human rights groups for statements expressing their concern over the rise of apparent vigilante killings around the country.
A bilateral meeting between Duterte and US President Barack Obama was cancelled after the Philippine president seemingly cursed his US counterpart after he was asked about the possibility of a discussion on extrajudicial killings in the country.
On Tuesday, Duterte reiterated that he would not bow down to any external pressure related to his war on drugs.
"I will not relent on this (war in drugs) [because] this hurts the very existence of my country. Even if the US will do everything to make us, me, kneel down, I will not," he said.
In his speech Duterte also boasted of plans to enter into "trade and commerce" deals with China and Russia. (READ: Duterte: I'm about to 'cross the Rubicon' with US) – Rappler.com