What Duterte should tell Obama

Ricardo Saludo

Ricardo Saludo

First of all, Mr. President, please dispel any misimpressions from media that I plan to lecture Your Excellency on rights abuses against African-Americans killed by police in your country.

You need no finger-wagging from anyone regarding human rights violations in such incidents. At the same time, those tragic episodes only demonstrate the difficulties faced by law enforcers confronting suspects.

If American police, despite rigid training and protocols, still gun down people in suspicious circumstances, so too might Philippine lawmen with far less resources and personnel, and now prosecuting an intense nationwide campaign against ruthless, well-armed syndicates.

Suspect deaths in our campaign are much greater than those in America and most developed nations. But so is the crime and drugs explosion we are dealing with, leading to far more arrests and violent encounters.

Here is the true magnitude of lawlessness we face. Crime tripled under my predecessor from 324,083 incidents in 2010, the year he took office, to more than 1 million a year since 2013. And in the first half of last year, crime reportedly rose by nearly half.

Murders kill almost 10,000 a year, while rapes numbering nearly 12,000, as recorded by our Philippine Statistics Authority. There are also about 60,000 robberies, 170,000 thefts and a quarter of a million cases of physical injury annually.

All those hundreds of thousands of crimes constitute rights abuses against their victims and their families.

Assuming an average of 1.5 victims per crime, the more than 3 million incidents reported in the last three years hurt close to 5 million Filipinos, plus their families. Add to that at least 3 million drug addicts and their close relatives.

The lives and rights of those tens of millions of law-abiding citizens should be protected just as much as those of crime suspects. And yet, foreign governments and the United Nations have said little about violations perpetrated by criminals on millions of law-abiding Filipinos.

But when hundreds of suspects are killed in our campaign to protect our people from the lethal scourge of lawlessness and drugs, we never hear the end of it. And amid the criticism of our campaign, there is little, if anything, said about how we are preventing thousands of murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, drug trafficking and abuse.

The sobbing families of suspects who, for the most part, died resisting arrest get front-page and primetime coverage, plus weeks of nationally televised Senate testimony. But victims of violent crime and narcotics get little attention and sympathy.

Is this America’s idea of human rights, Mr. President? The lawless get their day in court, Congress and CNN, while the law-abiding get nowhere, and the law enforcers risking life and limb to protect our communities, get demonized?

We must slash crime now
Our critics insist we can slash crime and drugs by harnessing our criminal justice system with full due process. As seasoned lawyers, however, you and I know how long and tedious it can be to investigate, prosecute and lock up a wealthy and well-connected crime or drug boss.

Even low-level pushers quickly get bail and get back to their nefarious business, helped by syndicates and police, fiscals and judges on the take. The adage that it’s better for 99 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be jailed, is — pardon my language — utter bull.

Try telling that to the victims of those 99 wrongly freed murderers, rapists, robbers and muggers. And with my country’s incompetent, corrupted criminal justice system, the rule of law often allows the lawless to rule.

We are fixing this broken system. We have cracked down on police protectors of drug syndicates, including top generals of the Philippine National Police. We are exposing and investigating members of Congress, provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and court judges with narco-links.

And we are beefing up our witness protection program, and cleaning up our national penitentiary, shutting down the second luxury homes and crime headquarters set up there by convicted drug lords.

These and other reforms will eventually make due process a credible threat against lawbreakers. But our people cannot be subjected to continued lawlessness while waiting for our law enforcement and judicial reform to take full effect.

We must ratchet down crime and drugs now, not eventually. Thank God, we’re doing exactly that, Mr. President.

As our National Police Chief reported to the Senate, since our crackdown began, crime is down by 30 percent to 50 percent, depending on the category.

That means there would be 3,000 fewer murders over the coming year. Rapes would drop by 4,000 and robberies by 20,000. Assaults and other physical injuries would decline by 80,000.

But neither the United Nations nor our international allies are cheering that. Instead, they decry the 2,000 suspects allegedly killed extrajudicially — a tiny fraction of nearly 12,000 suspects arrested and more than 600,000 users and pushers who surrendered.

Would it have been better if we relied on due process, at which the syndicates would have just laughed and continued their merry way, peddling drugs and driving addicts to murder, rape, robbery, theft and assault? And those 600,000-plus drug offenders would not give up, but keep victimizing law-abiding citizens.

I’m sorry, Mr. President, I cannot allow that. The Filipino people cannot allow that. And if the United Nations knew the data I just shared with you, I don’t think the global community would allow that.

And while I respect and understand religious and moral leaders who condemn the killings, I must ask them which is the greater evil — the suspect deaths in our campaign, or the thousands of murders, rapes, robberies and assaults our war on drugs prevents.

May I add that stopping the scourge of drug trafficking in our country, also blocks the global spread of narcotics transiting our land to other countries, including yours.

Thank you for listening to the perspective not only of my government, but more so of our law-abiding Filipinos who are now far more safe and secure under our watch.


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  1. This is a surprise Mr. Saludo. I don’t usually read your article because I had the impression you didn’t appreciate the efforts of President Duterte. This is a great piece and will definitely share it. God bless.

  2. Mr. Saludo,
    Would you be interested in speaking to CBC Radio in Toronto to share these perspectives? My name is Ines Colabrese and I work for a program called The Current. Please contact me if you would be interested in doing an interview on Thursday Sept 8, 2016 at 7:20am Eastern, 7:20pm in Manila.

    Thanks so much,
    Ines Colabrese

  3. Try this: Why are you Americans always on the side of the enemies of the republic. You want us to give the MILF a large chunk of Mindanao territory. You are also always using human rights against our military in defense of the communist NPA, and now you are taking the side of drug traffickers against our government. What do you really want to happen to us, Mr. Obama?

  4. Your beggar nation can forget the $200,000,000 it got annually from the US. And good luck with China. They’re going to eat you alive.

  5. It’s barbaric and archaic to insult other people be they leaders or otherwise. Particularly when a whole president goes on podium and start hurling insults to another president is the lowest form anyone can get and shows the level of uncouthness. Philippines export millions of poor overseas particularly to US and EU, with these blocked, there’ll be economic turmoil in that poor string of islands. Where did all the education take all the civilization?

  6. “And while I respect and understand religious and moral leaders who condemn the killings, I must ask them which is the greater evil — the suspect deaths in our campaign, or the thousands of murders, rapes, robberies and assaults our war on drugs prevents.”

    – I like this line sir. I would rather chose to kill the murderers/offenders than the innocent one. Doing this, it may lessen and some may think twice committing crimes.

  7. The US has racial issues, there is no denying about it,, It had the dark history of slavery, segregation and still today discrimaituon against racial minorities. But it is not its Governent Policies to Kill its citizens (the Wild West is history) for drug offences not send them for long jail terms without proving their guilts in a public trial before the court of law.

    The us has also a drug menace. But has not executed a thousand plus of its citizens on the street as ordered by ObAma.

  8. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    06 September 2016

    I think Manila Times columnist Ricardo Saludo will be terribly disappointed because Der Fuhrer Rodrigo Duterte will very likely not adopt his suggestions here on what to tell President Obama in their G20 meeting in China, and the succeeding two summits which are in the nature of JUSTIFICATIONS for Duterte’s EXTRAJUDICIAL killing of all those engaged in the narco problem, whether as drug lords, drug pushers, drug addicts and their supporters, a barbaric genocidal drive which has already netted a reported 2,000 victims.

    If Duterte gets a chance to talk to Obama at all, he will go true to form and probably just insult him in the foul and vulgar language of which he is an expert, and just call him “AN UPPITY BLACK” or worse.

    He cannot help being uncouth and vulgar to the 9th degree. The Filipino people should be ashamed they elected him their President.


  9. What utter nonsense. You painted a hypothetical scenario of what Obama will ask Duterte like you are privy to what the US president has in mind. Stupid is as stupid does. Obama did not insult Duterte. Digong just could not help but show the guttural parochial provincial extent of his capabilities. Disagree without being stupefyingly disagreeable. Even hypothetically.

  10. a new diplomatic language “son of a bitch”. with this language Philipines gain many Americans and Europeans as friends and a lot of money and support from America and Europe.

  11. It is short sighted to only assume that fighting drugs can be done in isolation and solved with a bullet. If one really wants to solve the narco trafficking amongst nations then one needs multinational cooperation. One also needs money to do so and the PI has no money except to pay for bullets. Killing one dealer will only be replaced by another when there are no jobs.

    The insults will not go unnoticed by the American people and I am sorry to say the relations between both countries will suffer under Duterte’s presidency in not only with regards to economic matters but on fighting drug trafficking.

  12. Imagine 3M drug addicts in 2013? Each one of 3M commiting crimes against person and property = 3M crimes. How about if they do 5 crimes each?

    Obama is a lame duck president. He is the worst US president. If you say USA, there are two, government and the citizens. Obama is not a US citizen. He protects islam and open borders. That’s why the legitimate US citizens are very angry with Obama. Illigal migrants getting the share of benefits of the true Americans. Remember amendment ! and 2 of their constitution Obama wants to erase?

  13. Obama just cancelled the meeting with Duterte, Guess he has more important things to do than to waste his time with Duterte.

  14. Maribel Calanda on

    What a waste, such defense on behalf of the millions of Filipinos who are being protected of this war against illegal drugs would not reach Obama’s ears coz it is already in the news that Obama has canceled such meeting. It is the media to blame on this. They provoked the president with questions about what Obama had to say to him if and when they meet. Our president is a talkative one and very candid in giving out opinions. Maybe it is not the time and day for that to happen. Obama is outgoing and PDIGONG is just warming his seat in both their respective offices. Let us nit trust Robredo. She said she is just waiting for things to happen. A very ambitious woman who does nit have the mandste of the people. At least then, when Gloria assumed the ofc of the presidency, she has a clear mandate as Vice President. The same cannot be said of Robredo who is a product of the pcos machines and the unscrupulous Comelec

  15. Saludo, the difference between Obama and Duterte (other than the fact that Obama wouldn’t call Duterte putang ina like a teenager), is that Obama would embrace the notion that police killings are a serious issue in the US. Obama has been critical of how things are in the US himself.

    So try another comparison…like Obama calling another foreign president a putang ina.

  16. Thanks, Mr. Saludo. I hope your suggestion reaches Pres. Duterte before he meets Pres. Obama. It really angers a lot of law abiding Filipinos to hear the criticisms against the well intentioned campaign of the present government against illegal drugs, crime and corruption. We are all pinning our hopes for a better Philippines on Pres. Duterte. Never before have we felt there is still hope for us until President Duterte emerged. God help the Philippines and our leaders with good hearts.

  17. Well said! As an American “Foreigner” I completely agree… I am pleased President Duterte told President Obama where to go and made it clear the Philippines are not a lap dog to America, or China, or the United Nations. If the UN (a proven toothless tiger) is so concerned about the Drug dealers in the Philippines then which one of the UN countries wish to accept the Drug Dealers…The PNP can arrest them and send them in exile to the UN Country that wants them and they can protect their precious Human Rights….Not that any drug dealer was every concerned for the addicts, their family’s and the homeless children the drugs they dealt created. I Only regret that I could not Vote for Duterte. He is just what the Philippines needs and sets an example for politicians everywhere. He does what he says he is going to do…(something American politicians have not done for years) He care passionately for his country and all fellow Filipino’s. He tells the truth …Even if you don’t like it. (Neither Trump or Clinton can remember what the truth is they have lied so many times) I believe in Duterte’s vision of a Philippines that is no longer “A third World Country” but a leader in Asia and the Pacific rim. I will probably move to the Philippines as staying in America with either of the current losers we have running for President is a no win situation.

  18. Of course that would have been the rational way to phrase it. Instead Duterte had to go to the gutter. Duterte not the US is disrespectful. It’s one thing to disagree and another to start calling names. If I were the next US president I’d threaten to start sending Filipino visa holders home on the next plane. Those Filipinos send back $11 billion a year, cut that in half and see how Duterte likes it. You think the PI is poor now?

    And I’d threaten to make a deal with China to allow them parts of the South China Sea at the Philippines expense. You want to play, we can play. The Philippines will be exposed for what it is; a weak, poor nation dependent on U.S. money and military power. Go ahead Duterte and enjoy your people living in garbage dumps and at the mercy of insurgencies and Chinese power.

    • Obama is not respected by US military anymore. You don’t know what our president DU30 knows about US government. US Citizens are very angry with OBAMA who is not an american.
      Don’t be brainwashed by the MSM.

    • Please go away and bury your head. Make sure it doesn’t come out. Bullshit!!!! 11 Billion a year from the US where did you get your facts. Thousands of Filipinos are working in the middle east not the US. You just dont flackin’ care because you cant. Who the flipping pizza hell are you to tell him to what to do – think and say. And you think the US greatest country on earth. Get over it!!!

  19. Great. Exactly what ordinary people are thinking. Some innocent people will have to sacrifice for the better good of all. Rather than a lot more innocent people dying at the hands if criminals.

    • “Some innocent people will have to sacrifice for the better good of all.” You mean they’ll be murdered, some by accident, some because it was a convenient time to kill an old enemy. You’ve suspended due process, and no longer represent a democracy.

  20. What Obama should tell Duterte: That happened over 100 years ago. The purpose of the G20 is to move forward, not backward. And I haven’t said anything to you. You are reacting to hypothetical questions asked by reporters trying to sell news.

  21. Mr Saludo
    Over here in America, when we think of that Hijo de Puta, Dirty Duterte, we are thinking this:

    Predator Drone
    Hellfire Missile

  22. Excellent article Mr. Saludo! You could have sent this to PDU30 as an e-mail and cc copy to POTUS. If PDU30 reads or scans articles of Manila Times, he will probably asking your permission if he, himself, can send your article to the President of the U.S. as an e-mail, and offer you a job as Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. at the same time.

  23. Sorry to disappoint you but the meeting was cancelled by Pres Obama after DU30 calls him “son of a bitch”. A big problem for a country lies ahead because our dear President cannot control his mouth uttering undiplomatic words. DU30 has been doing an excellent work most specially the eradication of the drug menace but he should leave giving official international statements to his cabinet people.

    • With due respect, I don’t think that big problem lies ahead of our country. It’s the other way around. DU30 knows that Mr. Obama terms is nearing to an end. He wanted to sent a message that US has to show respect and support to what DU30 and the country is fighting for. I admire DU30 for showing his toughness and transparency. He is a straight shooter. Calling Obama “son of a bitch probably is irritating especially to Michelle and daughters and to millions of his followers. But hey, we are grown up people and this foul words are just sign of frustration of the President. It does not mean that PH will cut its ties with the US. I personally prefer to deal with the US government than bloody Chinese CCP leadership.

  24. Well, as it turns out the two leaders won’t have the opportunity to exchange “views”. As Pres. Duterte rightly indicated, the Philippines is a sovereign country and the US president can offer little in the way of constructive criticism anyway.

    When the US was “asked” to leave Subic Bay some years ago, it marked the beginning of a positive new era in US-Philippines relations. It’s unfortunate that in recent years, the US was again nudged to providing support to the Philippines in the face of China’s mischief in the South China Sea, etc. The US owes nothing to the Philippines, nor do the Philippines owe anything to the US. Let’s each pursue the best course for the good of each respective nation without undue influence and involvement of the other…but let’s also not maintain the illusion that the two nations are allies. The US has two solid allies in ROK and Japan. The Philippines can and should look to China for it’s future political and economic stability. Actually, withe the US soon to be completely out of your horizon, you won’t have a choice but to find common ground with China.

    Under a possible/probable Trump presidency, the Philippines will be expected to maintain it’s own defense without engagement by the US. This is what the Filipino citizens want and expect and it is only fitting that finally the country be allowed to stand on its own. By the way…it’s what the citizens of the US want as well. So please deal directly with China on your own and we’ll stay out of your internal affairs. It’s the right thing to do.

    • Kent..There will still be engagement between PH and US officials in various levels in the military and economy. DU30 is focus in eliminating illegal drugs, corruption and various by ALL and ANY means. That’s how the person mind set is. It’s naïve to say that US does not need PH or vice versa PH does not need US. Especially in this perilous times. China has not respected it’s neighbors and international ruling. China went to war to USSR, India, Vietnam and is still controlling politics in Laos, Myammar, Cambodia. So I don’t think for a minute that China will stop its expansionism. In order for the two countries to achieve its goal (US to contain China and PH to claim the 200 miles EEZ, the relationship must work both ways and on equal terms. Leaders have to show empathy and respect to one another. Gone is the ‘bully style of leadership’.
      It may seem that South Korea and Japan are solid partners of the US. But I would say PH is a natural ally of the US…meaning Filipinos can be relied upon as long as the people are respected.

    • And who knows, maybe becoming a Chinese Colony is a good thing for the Philippines. Start bowing now.

    • Agreed, Fayette Hickox. But a criminal justice system corrupted and gamed by crime syndicates is not the role of law. Thank you.

  25. Bravo! I hope that His Excellency, President Ricardo Duterte can readily digest this after all he was once a prosecutor himself and a long running Mayor for more than two decades. Mr. Obama was only a junior Illinois Senator when he run for the Presidency and was in the right place when people were asking for change against the Bush administration. Of course I cannot discredit President Obama for his 8th years of service as President. He is also a good man. Unfortunately, his own people were detrimental in pushing things forward. On this contention and a premise for change, what you wrote seemed more than valid and it is long time coming. We have always been treated as mendicants by the First World Nations. Finally, we have arrived in action. Congratulations!

  26. Bravo! I hope that His Excellency, President Ricardo DUTERTE can readily digest this after all he was once a lawyer/prosecutor himself and a long running Mayor for more than two decades. Mr. Obama was only a junior Illinois Senator and was in the right place when people were asking for change against the Bush administration. Of course I cannot discredit President Obama for his 8th years of Presidency. He is also a good man. Congratulations!

  27. Truly Mr. Saludo … some Priest , CHR(local as well as global) , a lady Senator are all clamoring for the so called “human rights” of the few hundreds or thousands of alleged Drug Lords/Drug Protectors/Drug Pushers with few “collateral damages”, BUT they seemed to be NOT CONCERNED about the plight of the millions of people victimized by SHABU … and millions more to become victims if the problem about drugs persist .

    I am 100 % in favor in the application of the “rule of law” and the “due process” but some if not most of those who are suppose to implement the laws are “LAW BREAKERS” themselves.
    What then shall we do ? … as for me , since I cannot offer an alternative solution , instead of going against the program of President Rodrigo R. Duterte , I resorted to fervently praying that our President would be successful in his fight against the “Drug Problem” and “Corruption of Government Officials” in our Country … for the benefit of the Majority , especially the Youth who are the Hope of our Nation.

  28. vagoneto rieles on

    President Duterte owes an explanation to no one; leastwise, to President Obama or Ban Kee Moon. He is right in pointing to the need of both Obama and Ban to divert the spotlight from their own failings in their respective constituencies. Mr. Duterte is, after all, answerable only to the Filipinos who have pinned their hopes and aspiration solely on him…not to meddlers eager for attention.