To kids, Duterte promises death for criminals

MANILA, Philippines – The presence of children as young as 4 years old did not stop President Rodrigo Duterte from issuing forceful threats of death to criminals and drug addicts.

"Ako ngayon, galit ako. Papatay ako ng tao 'pag ginalaw ninyo 'yung kabataan namin," said Duterte on Monday, April 3, during a Boy Scouts of the Philippines event at the Palace.

(I am angry. I will kill people if they destroy our youth.)

In the audience were 4- to 6-year-old Kid Scouts and 7- to 10-year-old Cub Scouts. During the event, Duterte was named their Chief Scout, an honor given to all sitting presidents.

To these children, he confirmed that he has killed and will kill again for their sake. (READ: Duterte talks to kids about 'generations' of criminals)

"Talagang mahigpit ako. At sabi nga nila pumapatay daw ako ng tao. Talagang pumapatay ako ng tao, 'pag ginalaw ninyo ang mga anak namin," said the President.

(I am really strict. And they say I kill people. I really kill people if they destroy our children.)

Duterte did not hesitate to provide his usual gruesome metaphors meant to strike fear in the hearts of drug addicts. (READ: Shoot to kill? Duterte's statements on killing drug users)

"You drug addicts, since you've been identified, avoid the streets, stay in your homes because I will throw you in Manila Bay. I'll make you fertilizer for the fish," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Despite this, Duterte apparently made an effort to modify his speech to somewhat fit his audience. Not once did he curse, though he had a close call when he uttered, "anak ng –" (son of a).

"Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi ako mag-say ng bad words. Iyong patay lang, marami naman patay diyan sa punerarya," he said, eliciting laughter from his audience.

(I told them, I won't say bad words. I will just talk about the dead, there are many dead in funeral homes.)

Fond of interacting with his audience, Duterte encouraged all of them to enter the Philippine Military Academy and become soldiers who will "die for their country."

"Sino'ng gustong mag-sundalo? Magpakamatay sa bayan? Bakit may spring 'yang kamay ninyo? Pagano'n-gano'n. Asahan ko 'yan ha. Asahan ko 'yang mag-sundalo kayo," he said, after a few children raised their hands.

(Who wants to be a soldier? Die for their country? Why is there a spring in your hands, going up and down? I'm depending on that. I'm depending on you to become soldiers.)

He also told the kids of his plans to bring back mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for Grades 11 and 12 in order to instill in them a "love for country" and quash laziness.

"Now, no one is going into ROTC. They know nothing about holding a gun. They know nothing about how to fight our enemies," said the President.

His speech appeared to make an impact on the kids. After his speech and photo opportunities with the scouts, Duterte walked offstage to have a chat with them.

As he turned his back, a kid could be seen and heard saying he wants to "kill drug pushers." – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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