PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Wednesday he won’t become a dictator amid international criticism of his war on illegal drugs that has left at least 1,900 suspects dead.
“Welcome to your country…and help me. I don’t plan to be a dictator. I am a lawyer, my mother is a Yellow Friday leader in Davao,” Duterte said in a speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after welcoming overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia.
He was referring to a group that supported the presidential bid of Corazon Aquino against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by the 1986 “People Power” revolt.
“They said I would be like Marcos. Far from it. I am just doing my duty. Otherwise, I will compromise the next generation. That includes your children and grandchildren. We will have a failed country,” Duterte said.
“I don’t care if I turn out to be wrong, as long as I am sure of the Filipinos’ welfare,” he added.
The President again shrugged off the criticisms from the United Nations and other human rights groups of his anti-drug campaign, saying he was simply exercising political will that his predecessors were unable to do.
“I will clean this country [of drugs]… this is not to brag … but nobody is capable of doing these things except me. I started this and I will end this. If I end up in prison, then visit me in [Muntinlupa]. Bring drugs,” the President said in jest, alluding to the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
The President then reiterated that people involved in drugs won’t get a free pass just because they are poor.
“You can’t say, spare me because I am poor. The law does not provide for that. Everybody fights back when they are high on drugs. If you had taken drugs, you would know I am right,” Duterte said.
“We do not enjoy killing people. I do not enjoy this war. I hate to sign documents that would procure things that would just kill or maim citizens. This is not the game I want to play. I prefer a different enemy. Not a fellow Filipino,” he said.