Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte says he wants ‘helpful friends’ to get richer

Pia Ranada
‘Yung kaibigan kong tumutulong, ‘pag yumaman ka nang yumaman, mas maligaya ako,’ says President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte claims he’s on the warpath against “elites” and “oligarchs,” but in a speech in Sulu, he said he won’t hesitate to help his own friends “get rich.”

Duterte made the statement while addressing troops in Jolo, Sulu, on Monday, July 13, directed, in particular, at Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, who was seated in front.

” ‘Yung kaibigan kong tumutulong, ‘pag yumaman ka nang yumaman, mas maligaya ako (My friends who are helpful, if you get richer and richer, I will be happy),” he said.

Tutal ako, happy na ako sa buhay ko (Anyway, I’m already happy with my life). But I want you to get rich. But we have to talk because there is so much that we can do business,” he continued.

Before these remarks, Duterte talked about the shooting incident in Jolo where local cops killed 4 intelligence officers.

Addressing Tan, the President said he knew the “pain” that the governor went through every time a Tausug was killed – whether “right or wrong.” He said in a mix of English and Filipino that he can “guarantee” the governor “that the truth will come out in fairness to the Tausug, policemen, and to the soldiers who died.”

He later on said in Filipino that his government “would like to change the way we look” at the Bangsamoro and to “give them a better arrangement.”

The President eventually talked about a possible business venture in coal, an energy resource, which he said, would still be used for the “next 30 years” since solar energy is not enough to sustain power supply requirements. But there are other businesses that are even more “big time,” said the Chief Executive.

Tayo ang mag-usap. Kung yayaman ka diyan, mas maligaya ako. Kaibigan kita eh,” Duterte told Tan. (Let’s talk. If you get rich there, I will be happier. Because you’re my friend.)

In the same speech, Duterte ranted about powerful families who allegedly use their influence over politicians to reap profits.

Four days ago, a House of Representatives panel voted to reject a new franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN, a culmination of years of threats and accusations from Duterte himself.

Duterte was gleeful that he was able to “dismantle” the Philippine “oligarchy” without resorting to martial law, harking back to the time the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos used military rule to shut down businesses, including ABS-CBN and hand them to his cronies.

The Duterte presidency has seen a rise in fortunes for many of his allies, including businessmen. Davao businessman Dennis Uy, for example, has bought 36 companies since Duterte took over. Uy had contributed funds for Duterte’s presidential bid. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at