Rodrigo Duterte

Marcos to Duterte: ‘Naiintindihan ko na kung bakit napapamura ka’

Bea Cupin
Marcos to Duterte: ‘Naiintindihan ko na kung bakit napapamura ka’

THE TWO PRESIDENTS. Outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte and incoming President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. stand beside each other for a photo during the inauguration of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte on June 19, 2022. Screenshot from Sara Duterte's Livestream

Marcos makes the joke to his predecessor in a birthday greeting, but his biggest public gift to the former president is something decidedly less funny – his insistence on 'disengaging' from the International Criminal Court

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made a cheeky birthday greeting to his predecessor and one-time critic Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, March 28.

“What a pleasure for me to wish happy birthday to ating (our) predecessor, PRRD. Happy birthday to you, Mr. President. Ngayon naiintindihan ko na kung bakit kung minsan ay noong president ka, napapamura ka (I now understand why sometimes, you would cuss when you were still president). Now I know why,” Marcos said in a recorded message posted on his official social media accounts.

Pero huwag ‘nyong inaalala lahat ng magandang sinimulan ninyo (But don’t worry about all the good things you started), we will continue to work on it. We will continue to make sure that those projects that you started will be successful and I am glad that I am able to continue the good work that you started,” added Marcos.

Marcos also wondered if his predecessor still knew how to relax after spending decades as a public servant and urged him to celebrate his birthday well.

“And so…I don’t know kung makapag-relax ka (if you can relax) because after a lifetime of work, I don’t know if you still know how to take it easy but if you got the chance, please have a good celebration. Happy, happy birthday PRRD!” he said.

Person, Human, Hand

Marcos did not elaborate on his joke on empathizing with Duterte’s habit of spewing expletives in public addresses, which his predecessor usually addressed to critics (especially those who questioned his controversial drug war, political foes, and the media, including Rappler) and people who had inconvenienced him, like Pope Francis. Duterte had also called God “stupid” as he blasted the Bible creation story.

Long before he occupied Malacañang, Duterte had been infamous as the foul-mouthed, tough-talking mayor of Davao City bent on fighting criminals – an image that helped him win the presidency.

Marcos and Duterte share a rather complicated history. Duterte has been all praises for the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., but Duterte has not been as fond of the son and namesake, even once calling him a “weak leader.” Even when Marcos allied with his daughter, Sara Duterte, for the 2022 elections, Duterte mostly kept mum.

Yet Marcos Jr. greatly benefited from Duterte’s legacy and popularity.

The Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte alliance proved difficult to beat in the 2022 polls – their tandem became the umbrella under which Philippine politics’ biggest and most infamous names coalesced into a union like no other. The tandem would go on to get majority wins as president and vice president, the first in the post-EDSA People Power Revolution era.

The elder Duterte exited Malacañang a popular leader, despite his legacy of a bloody war on drugs, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos, both in police operations and vigilante-style killings. Duterte faces a probe by the International Criminal Court over those deaths, including killings in Davao City under his leadership.

It is in this context that Marcos’ March 28 message might be even more important.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Pag-IBIG Fund event, Marcos declared that the Philippines would “disengage” from the ICC, after the international body rejected his government’s bid to suspend the investigation.

With Marcos’ fidelity to shielding Duterte from the ICC investigation, maybe his predecessor was able to relax on his birthday after all. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.