President Rodrigo Duterte is a walking contradiction—his biggest contradiction probably is his self-declaration of being a Leftist and socialist while waging war on the people, inflicting greater historical injustice on the Moro, continuing US domination and neoliberal policies.
But to the common folk, Duterte made it easy for every one to see how he double speaks and contradicts himself. He’ll say one thing today, tomorrow he’ll say something the exact opposite. Are there different versions of Duterte? Does he suffer from multiple personality disorder? Or is Duterte a pathological liar bent on ruling the country through deceit and manipulation? Is he the best strategist like his people would speak of him and is this all part of his strategy? Any which way this goes, the people best rest their fate on their own strength and not to a politician who could not stand by his own word.
We have compiled the top ten self-contradicting quotes of Duterte.
“Nag-martial law tayo noon, gumaling ba ang buhay natin? Hanggang ngayon, wala (We had martial law before, did our lives improve? Up to now, no improvement),” Duterte said in his speech at the ARMM Local Government Summit in Davao City on December 1, 2016.
Less than two months later, on January 14, he said “Kung gusto ko (if I wanted to), at it will deteriorate to something virulent. I will declare Martial Law if I wanted to. Walang makapigil sa akin (no one can stop me).”
But Duterte was quick to declare Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao citing the Maute group’s brazen attacks in a single city, Marawi, on May 23 while still on a state visit in Moscow, Russia.
“Martial law is martial law ha. It will not be any different from what the President, Marcos did. I’d be harsh,” said Duterte on May 24, 2017.
After defeating the handful Maute group in Marawi, instead of lifting Martial Law, Duterte took the opportunity to extend Martial Law for yet another year, this time around citing the New People’s Army (NPA) as reason for the extension.
For almost half a century, a civil war has been raging due to peasant landlessness and grave social inequities all over the land. The peace talks would have been the proper venue to tackle and address poverty and social injustice, which are the roots of the civil war. Unfortunately, President Duterte trashed the peace talks and foments greater resistance from the revolutionaries, indigenous peoples and the Moro.
“Sinabihan ko sila (militar) na sa Paquibato, kailangan mong ituring na mahal ng lahat ng tao ang NPA. ‘Yan ang buhay nila. Naging tao na sila diyan, sa paghihirap. At tinutulungan sila ng NPA,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said at a courtesy visit by progressive groups to Davao in May 2014.
[I told the military that in Paquibato, you have to realize that all the people love the NPA. That is their life. They were born to that hardship. And the NPA helps them.]
He would go on to explain the legitimacy of the cause of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) until his first few months as Philippine president.
But in February 2017, when the then-six months ceasefire were first cancelled, he sang a completely different tune, threatening to declare the groups as terrorists based on one-sided reports from the military that could then be verified by the mechanisms available through the peace talks. The tension thawed and the fourth round of peace talks followed and successfully concluded in April. But the fifth round scheduled in May was cancelled by Duterte for his insistence for a bilateral ceasefire before talks could proceed—but this was not according to the talks framework even as revolutionaries acceded to discuss its possibility should social and economic reforms be fast-tracked. In the months that followed, military reports were fodder for Duterte’s expletives against the revolutionaries as the prospect of peace talks resumption looked bleaker than ever.
A low profile fifth round of talks was suddenly cancelled by Duterte. It was scheduled after the ASEAN and EAS Summit and US President Donald Trump’s first visit to the country. Duterte again reasoned the ongoing skirmishes between the government’s forces and the NPA—but, well, there is an ongoing civil war and no ceasefire.
“Before, we recognized them as legitimate rebels. But with their continued depredations, killing innocent people even an infant four months old, I’ll be issuing a proclamation. I will remove them from the category of a legal entity, or at least a semi-movement which would merit our attention, placing the—same as America—terrorists,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City on November 19.
By December 5, he would make good on his threat. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced the proclamation to declare the CPP and NPA as terrorists and to go after their supporters and financiers has been signed by Duterte.
Duterte brought up the idea of a coalition government before he became president.
“This coalition government, it’s not just for one to act like a king. If there’s a coalition, we’re all equal, whether you’re a communist or from the government. So we will live in a better world.” Duterte said during the release of POW on January 19, 2015.
So, the idea of forming a coalition government was his own original idea. Duterte offered this to the revolutionaries on the onset of the peace talks, to which the communists said they would be interested given policies on anti-political dynasty, anti-Martial law and keeping in check authoritarian or power concentration among oligarchs would be in place.
Of late, talks on forming a coalition government with all sectors and convictions in society became a source of his ire against the revolutionaries, saying that they were demanding a lot from him and that he already gave too much.
“As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side. And when I sum it all, reading from all previous working papers, it would sound like a coalition government. That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I do not own. And certainly, a coalition government with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense,” Duterte said in a speech before the First Scout Ranger Regiment at Camp Tecson in Bulacan, November 24, 2017.
“I might decide to just free them before the talks. Okay ako. Lahat, basta [I am okay with that. All of them, as long as] we deal in good faith,” a newly elected President Duterte said on May 24, 2016 on the release of 400 political prisoners he inherited from the Benigno Aquino administration.
He said this is a matter of justice as well as a goodwill gesture for the resumption of the peace talks with the revolutionaries, represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace talks. He released around 21 NDFP consultants for them to be able to participate in the peace talks.
He would flip flop a few months later, revealing his intention to keep political prisoners as trump cards in the peace talks:
“We’re playing a poker game here, maubos baraha ko (I’ll lose all my cards). I-release ko lahat ‘yan, ano pa pag-usapan natin [If I release all of them, what would be left to talk about]?” said Duterte on December 8, 2016.
From the time Duterte was elected up to the fourth round of peace talks in April 2017, Duterte and his peace negotiators would keep on reiterating that they would make good on their promise to release political prisoners. It never happened and he would add 121 new political prisoners in his first 18 months.
He has also ordered the re-arrest of NDFP consultants, supposedly protected by the bilaterally signed peace talks agreement Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, following his December 2017 declaration to cancel the peace talks.
“Today, I am directing the Armed Forces and the police not to use the word ‘revolutionary tax.’ That is not a proper word to, for us to adopt… Use the word extortion, hold-upper, kidnapper. At idemanda ko kayo (and I will press charges against you),” Duterte said in July 2017.
He would pick up on this tirade months later.
“All mining companies are paying taxes to the NPA. Without exception. But hindi magta-thrive yang mga mining nila pag hindi magbibigay ng pera yan [But the mining companies will not thrive if they don’t give money]. We have to decide once and for all. If I go against the NPAs, the communists, everybody else has to reconfigure your relationship with the NPA. Because if you continue to support financially, I will close you down,” he said at the Ang Huling Tikas Pahinga event in Taguig City on November 21.
He would push this further in his proclamation to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorists in December. The proclamation was also meant to go after supporters or financiers of the CPP-NPA.
This is the exact opposite of what Duterte as Davao City mayor said to businessmen in Davao on October 17, 2013.
“I cannot put it to a stop. So factor that in your investments. If you pay to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), you prepare also for the NPA.”
Ending the drug menace was on top of the list of Duterte’s campaign promises.
“If elected president, give me about three to six months, I will get rid of corruption, drugs and criminality,” Duterte said in a speech on February 19, 2016.
Later on he would backtrack on his statement.
“Look, itong shabu and drugs, et cetera, cannot be solved by one man for a president for one term,” he said on August 9, 2017 at the Philippine Development Forum: Sulong Pilipinas 2017.
He would continue with his bloody war on drugs that now has a toll of around 16,000, including the number of “deaths under investigation” that the police segregates from their officially reported drug war casualties.
“I will not allow any soldier or policeman to go to prison for destroying the drug industry in the country. And for those who are facing charges, they can be very sure that they can walk out free men. Wala nang problem, basta diyan [they will not have problems with that],” the chief executive said on June 27, 2017.
These words of Duterte were not mere pronouncements. He also reinstated policemen involved in the killing of former Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. in a police operation inside a police jail facility. He also commended Ozamiz City police chief Jovie Espenido in a July raid that killed Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and six others. Espenido destroyed the Parojinog’s CCTV cameras during the operation to serve a search warrant, while witnesses and survivors on the Parojinog side allege that evidence against them was planted by the police.
He would seem to take the earlier declaration back, following the successive deaths of youth in the drug war–Kian, Carl, Reynaldo.
“I’m sorry, but I will pursue the cases against the police, and if need be, they should go to jail. Wala akong inutos na ‘patayin mo ‘yung bata o matanda and even the enemy on bended knees.’ That is not the norm nor the rule of a democracy,” Duterte said in a speech during the 60th founding anniversary celebration of the Social Security System in Quezon City.
“If you are into [extrajudicial killings], I’ll see to it you go to jail. Baka ako pa ang babaril sa ’yo.” Duterte gave this message to erring policemen on September 6, 2017.
Reading the statement above, it may appear that President Duterte was bent on punishing murderous state forces. But in countless other speeches, Duterte assured the military and police they will not see a day in jail and that he himself would answer for casualties and responsibilities following the conduct of their operations.
He would also most consistently lambast local and international human rights advocates and groups, and curse against those who would raise human rights issues that hound his administration.
“I hate corruption. Do not do it because I have never done it,” said Duterte on July 1, 2017.
One of Duterte’s campaign promise is to end corruption in government. But his statement below is some sort of contradicting self-admission of corruption:
“I hate corruption. Hindi ako nagmamalinis. Marami rin akong ninakaw pero naubos na [I stole a lot, but none was left]. Corruption is really out during my term,” Duterte said on June 29, 2017, that day speaking about sacking a government official from the Clark Airbase over corruption allegations. He was at the 140th founding anniversary of the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association Inc. at Manila Hotel in Manila.
But Duterte won’t even go after his predecessor Noynoy Aquino:
“Maybe when I sit as President, I am not going to prosecute. I am not up to it actually, going after political enemies,” Duterte said in an interview with media.
Actions speak louder than words. Confidential and intelligence funds amounting to a whopping to P2.5 billion ballooned to five times bigger than the previous administration (P500 million). Where these funds go is anyone’s guess as they are impossible to audit.
We’ve heard him spew invectives against corrupt government officials. He threatened to kick officials who love junkets—kicked at least two of them by now—but did you know that Duterte spent P386.2 million in foreign trips during his first year in office? That’s three times the amount his predecessors spent. It is indeed difficult to kick your own behind.
Duterte’s office was also allocated P11.5 billion for the 2017 ASEAN Summit out of a P15-billion budget, more than P 7 billion of this amount was allotted for entertainment and representation.
For all that tough talk against corruption, Duterte declined to sign the waiver to open his bank account for the public to scrutinize.
Under his watch, the tyrant thief Ferdinand Marcos gets to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani, jailbird Jinggoy Estrada, charged with the unbailable crime of plunder, walks away after being allowed to post bail.
And what about the P6.4B worth of shabu smuggling mess where his son Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Mance Carpio was dragged?
Most of these are allegations yet to be proven or claims yet to be disproved. However which way it would happen, Duterte does not look to be frugal nor spotless.
“We are Catholics and there is the Civil Code, which says that you can only marry a woman for me… a woman to marry a man,” Duterte said in a meeting with the Filipino community in Myanmar in March last year.
On December 17, 2017, at an LGBT community event in Davao City, Duterte backtracked and had this to say:
“I want same-sex marriage. The problem is we’ll have to change the law. But we can change the law.”
Legalizing same sex marriage is definitely a positive move. But given the fact that Duterte is quick to change his mind, it would be safest to not rely on anything he says.
He threatened to end unjust agreements such as EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) and Visiting Forces Agreements, these agreements forged between the Philippine and American government that violate our national sovereignty. EDCA permits the US military to construct structures (bases and barracks, in fact) within Philippine soil, and VFA allows entry of American armed forces and war materiel on Philippine soil.
“They (US) do not look at us kindly. We have this huge problem… Actually, we do not need it. We can survive without American money. But you know, America, you might also be put to notice. Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Duterte said.
“You have the EDCA. Well, forget it. If I stay here long enough, one day that EDCA will, if it’s an executive agreement then I will just [makes sweeping away gesture],” Duterte said at a press conference on October 25, 2016.
Duterte also raised criticisms against the US in the 2016 ASEAN Summit where former US President Barrack Obama was present. He was known to decried the war killings of the US in the Philippines during the former’s occupation war in the country. He would go on to declare that he would have an independent foreign policy.
Apparently, it was just an empty threat.
“You want to come back here? You pay us. You want bases here? Pay us. Transaction tayo, pera-pera na lang tayo, mabuti pa,” Duterte said in a speech on December 17, 2016.
After Donald Trump won the elections, the fiery Duterte watered down his statements against the US:
“I’d rather be friendly to them, because overall, the Americans redeemed themselves. They have helped us,” Duterte said in Balangiga on September 28, 2017.
After Trump’s visit in November last year, his unraveling was complete, summed up by the quotes below:
“I will follow America, tutal sinasabi nila ‘amboy’ daw ako. Kailan pa ako naging amboy? ‘Duterte, US fascist.’ O eh ‘di sige, granted,” he said against the revolutionaries his administration once faced in formal peace talks.
His independent foreign policy idea also came to be just to allow every other country’s warship to dock in the country ‘as a gesture of partnership’ and receive arms and other donations. It was also about being mum about China’s continuing encroachments and constructions in the West Philippine Sea as well as dropping all leverage the Philippine gained against China with a favorable international ruling on the disputed islands.
If there’s one thing we can be sure about Duterte, it’s his being consistently inconsistent.
He has revealed himself to be another traditional politician, capitalizing on the hopes and aspirations of the people, but once elected, treats them like trash. Duterte projects himself as a cursing, fearless and maverick leader, but in reality, he is a coward, with zero balls to stand up against American domination. He has more in common with the turncoat Emilio Aguinaldo than the defiant General Luna. Duterte is no different from his predecessors, save for the lust for violence. The victims killed in the war on drugs far surpass that of Marcos’s victims during the dark days of Martial law.
In 2018, the Filipino people better teach him a lesson how we collectively deal with tyrants.
Photos from Presidential Photographers Division