‘I am a disposable President’ – Duterte

Published July 5, 2020, 3:02 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

A “disposable President” was how President Duterte described himself as he remained unfazed by any attempt to remove him from office.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the troops during his visit to the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City on July 3, 2020.

The President, who marked his fourth year in office last June 30, found “no problem” if the military launches a coup and asks him to step down.

“Hindi ako atat na atat maging presidente. I am a disposable president because that is this the — ‘yon dapat ang ano. Kasi kung ayaw ninyo, kung galit kayo, o ‘di tanggalin ninyo ako, mag-coup d’état kayo. (I am not too keen about the presidency. I am a disposable president because that should be. Because if you don’t want me, if you’re mad, go ahead and remove me. Launch a coup d’état),” he said said before an assembly of troops in Zamboanga last Friday.

Duterte, however asserted that there was no need violence in demanding his removal from office.

“Pero sa akin, hindi na kailangan magdala pa ng maski isang M16. Papuntahin mo lang ‘yang mga military commanders at pulis at sabihin nila, “Ayaw ka na namin.” Maski hindi pa ako tapos sa termino ko sabihin ko, “Sige, okay. No problem’ (But for me, you don’t have to bring even a single M16. You may send the military and police commanders and tell me, ‘We don’t want you anymore.’ Even if I haven’t finished my term, I’d say, ‘Okay. No problem’),” he said.

Duterte recalled that he once offered to resign if the Senate had not passed a measure doubling the salary of soldiers and other uniformed personnel in 2017.  He said many lawmakers wanted to prioritize the tax reform law at the time but he insisted “on the money intended to increase your salaries.”

“Now, kung hindi ninyo mabigyan ang sundalo — tanungin mo ‘yan sila lahat alam nila, dito sa itaas, si Delfin ‘yan, Senator Zubiri and Senator Gordon — sinabi ko, “Kung hindi ninyo masali ang increases ng pulis pati military, I will resign. I will pack my things and go home to Davao to retire. (Now you if don’t give the soldiers, you may ask them, Delfin, Senator Zubiri and Senator Gordon, I said,’If you don’t include the increases for the police and military, I will resign. I will pack my things and go home to Davao to retire’),” he said.

The joint resolution on the salary hike for the police and military was approved by the Senate on final reading on December 13, 2017. It was eventually signed by the President the following month.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Train Act was signed into law by the President on December 2017. 

The President flew to Zamboanga City last Friday to appeal to the military to remain calm and avoid retaliation amid the ongoing probe on the fatal police shooting of four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu. 

Duterte has promised an impartial investigation to ferret out truth and justice for the slain soldiers, saying those responsible will be punished.  He admitted that he was saddened by the incident which has generated “hatred and animosity” between the military and police following the incident. He promised to stay neutral and silent about the matter until the probe is complete.

As he called for calm and understanding, the President assured the soldiers about his government’s commitment to look after their welfare. 

Apart from raising their salaries, Duterte said he donates P50 million a month to the military hospital in Quezon City to give proper medical care and medicines to the soldiers. He has warned against pocketing these funds intended for the soldiers.

“Walang ibang presidente ng Pilipinas na lumingon para sa inyo. Totoo ‘yan. Iyon lang suweldo pati ‘yung mga equipment ninyo sa ospital pati ‘yung medisina para sa gamot. (No other president in the Philippines that looked after you. That’s true — the salary hike, hospital equipment and medicines),” he said.