MABALACAT, Philippines – After keeping a low profile since the inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte stepped back into the limelight this week with trademark rants and attacks against pet peeves.
Duterte on Thursday, January 26, attended a grand Pampanga fête at the Royce Hotel in Clark Freeport Zone where he was honored as the province’s “adopted son” – and proceeded to unload old broadsides on the Lopezes, ABS-CBN, and the Ayalas.
Three days earlier, on January 23, Duterte, accompanied by his daughter, Vice President Sara, was the guest of honor at the 89th birthday party in Bacolod City of Olivia Yanson, the matriarch of the family that owns Vallacar Transit, one of Asia’s biggest bus fleets.
There, Duterte also raved, hurling curses as he defended his “war on drugs,” and saying he wasn’t through.
Praise for aid
Pampanga Governor Delta Pineda, his mother and Vice Governor Lilia, former president and House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led more than 700 politicians and social bigwigs in giving tribute to Duterte.
The Pampanga Provincial Information Office said that Duterte’s designation as “adopted son of Pampanga” was formalized by Resolution No. 7643 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Legislature) which Governor Pineda signed.
Senator Bong Go, Duterte’s former personal assistant and still his constant companion, also received recognition for his “Malasakit Centers.”
In a short speech, Arroyo said the province had also recognized the late president Fidel V. Ramos “as an adopted Kapampangan” for giving more than P555 million for Pampanga’s megadike.
“Ano pa kayo na bilyon bilyon ang binigay nyo dito sa Pampanga,” she said to loud applause. (More so with you, who gave billions to Pampanga.)
Arroyo said that a combination of infrastructure projects and “soft aid” like health contributed to the province having the lowest poverty rate in the country. Contrary to her claim, however, the latest poverty statistics released by the Philippine Statistics Authority in August 2022 estimated the poverty incidence among families in Pampanga at 2.9%, with Ilocos Norte (1.7%), Siquijor (2.2%), and Batanes (2.6%) having lower rates.
The Pampanga Information Office showed a short clip of Duterte’s partial response, cutting the video after he thanked his hosts.
But in a longer video posted by a barangay captain, Duterte said he would ditch his prepared speech.
“I’m retired. As a former president, I would like to unload yung mga nakuha ko (what I learned) along the way so that you better understand the presidency and the politics that surround choosing a leader for the country.”
Duterte said his six years as president was very hard.
He then went on a rambling rant.
“I just would like to say something, na ang binara ko talaga… na ano, the likes of ABS-CBN, tapos yung mga Lopezes na negosyo.” (The ones I hit hard, the likes of ABS-CBN, then the Lopezes and their businesses.)
“Kaya sabi ko noong eleksyon, sa Davao at sa ibang lugar, yung corruption sa police, Customs, wala yan, maski sa airport, maliit diyan. Sabi ko, ang pinakamalaki nandito sa taas. (That’s why I said during the elections, in Davao and other places, that corruption in the police, Customs, that’s nothing, even in the airport, that’s small fry. I said the biggest fish are here at the top.)
“And true enough, when I became the president, nakita ko yung very lopsided in favor of the rich people, na walang second choice. Sila lang. Just imagine ang pera.” (I saw how lopsided it was in favor of the rich people, and there was no second choice. Only them. Imagine the wealth.)
The barangay captain’s video also showed Duterte briefly mentioning Manila Water and the Ayalas but it was shut off before he went into details.
In Bacolod City, Duterte started off mellow, thanking the Yanson family for helping him, from his campaign for the presidency “until I finished my term.”
It degenerated into a tirade as he defended his “war on drugs.”
“We must continue the watch against drugs because we have to take care of the next generation,” said Duterte.
Addressing drug personalities, Duterte warned that he was not through.
“P***ina ninyo … Do not destroy the youth. P**ina, papatayin ko talaga kayo.”
In Pampanga, the province’s video tribute opened with old news footage of Duterte saying, “I am ready to start my war for the nation.”
The video placed his “war on drugs” and the war against corruption at the top of the former president’s contributions to the country.
Duterte’s bloody campaign was carried out with promises to shield cops accused of human rights violations and attacks on critics of his brutal tactics.
It has since come under a harsh light due to a series of arrests linking police and other anti-drug agencies to big drug seizures.
The irony has raised howls of rage among the families of those who faced Duterte’s jeers as they sought justice for kin slain in his campaign.
An intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (DEG), the police unit tasked with leading the country’s anti-drug campaign, was arrested in October 2022 after his ID, belongings and “incriminating documents” were found during a raid that led to the seizure of 990 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine) worth P6.7 billion in Tondo, Manila.
In December 2022, the city of Taguig suspended ties with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) after its local chief and two agents were caught in a drug bust.
Even Duterte’s successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., while refusing to blame him, criticized the police who implemented his campaign, intimating that some may be in the narcotics trade.
In an interview with the Associated Press during his September 2022 visit to the United States, Marcos said his administration was going after them. On January 4, 2023, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos asked full police colonels and generals to file their courtesy resignation as part of efforts to purge the Philippine National Police of cops with drug links.
Former President Duterte’s statement of blaming the said “Oligarch” at the top levels of government is a way of diverting attention from his own failure to curb Corruption during his administration. What it really means is to foster Fear among the “Oligarch,” that those who would not give in to his demands shall suffer (and will continue to do so [and even more] especially when his daughter Sara will become the next President after Marcos Jr.).