Duterte tells Korean businessmen: Slap, kick abusive PH gov't personnel

'NO CORRUPTION.' President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech in front of South Korean and Filipino businessmen. PTV screenshot

'NO CORRUPTION.' President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech in front of South Korean and Filipino businessmen.

PTV screenshot

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged South Korean businessmen to slap or kick Filipino government personnel who ask for bribes.

He said this on Tuesday, June 5, during a business forum in Seoul, as he tried to showcase his hardline stance against corruption and red tape in front of potential South Korean investors.

"If there's somebody asking for money, do not give anything. Maybe you can slap him and say, 'Look, idiot, I spent money to come here to invest,'" said Duterte.

"'Do not do that to me because your president says I can kick you in the ass.' You have my permission," he continued.

The bombastic Philippine leader even assured the Koreans that he considers himself as their personal agent in the Philippines.

"You know what, when you think of investments in the Philippines and you need an agent in the Philippines, maybe to do some work, consider the president of the Republic of the Philippines as your agent," said Duterte to enthusiastic applause from the audience.

He also urged them to report any Philippine government personnel "mentioning money" to their ambassador Han Dong-man, whom he described as his "big boss."

To Filipinos in government, Duterte gave this warning: "Do not go into bribery, do not ask for money, because that is not allowed…. I will go after you and, if I find it necessary, I said maybe I will kill you."

Promise of protection

Duterte also made it a point to assure the Korean business executives that they would be safe in the Philippines.

The assurance brings to mind the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo at the hands of Philippine police, which Duterte himself apologized for and called a national embarrassment.

"I have to assure you there will be law and order.... You will be protected, I will see to that," said Duterte.

He promised he would have "reorganized" the Philippine National Police by 2019.

Police had abducted businessman Jee Ick Joo from his Pampanga home in October 2016 on the pretext of a drug investigation, according to the National Bureau of Investigation.

It was discovered that Jee was killed hours after his abduction, allegedly inside a car parked in Camp Crame, just meters away from the official residence of the PNP chief.

After the incident, Duterte temporarily removed the PNP from the anti-drugs campaign and promised to "cleanse" it  of corrupt personnel. The PNP is now back in the campaign but no longer as its head. The campaign is now supervised by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. – 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.