The prospect of landing in jail over alleged human rights abuses does not scare President Duterte.
Addressing a government assembly on anti-communist insurgency efforts in Tacloban City Thursday, the President admitted that he would gladly go to prison following his recent directive to shoot dead armed rebels.
Even if he lands in jail, Duterte is confident that he would not stay behind bars for a long time since he is already old. The President turns 76 on March 28.
“Kaya ako nagpunta doon minsan sa Negros Oriental kasi nag-away, may barilan. And invariably ang sinasabi nila gobyerno ang pumatay. Huwag kayong maniwala niyan. Kung ako ang nagpapatay, sabihin ko sa inyo pinapatay ko ‘yang p** i* ‘yan kasi g*** ‘yan. Hindi ako magdadalawang-isip (I once visited Negros Oriental because there was a fight, a shooting, and invariably they said the government killed them. Don’t believe that. If I had ordered the killing, I would tell you, ‘I had that son of a b*tch killed because he was a fool.’ I won’t have second thoughts),” he said during the gathering held in Leyte.
The tough-talking Duterte remained unfazed by the possibility of getting thrown in jail for such kill order.
“Patay? Human rights? Okay. Pasok ako sa kulungan? Oo. Good. I’ll be happy. Tutal matanda na rin ako. Hindi naman ako magtagal diyan sa preso na ‘yan (Kill? Human rights? Okay. I’ll go to jail? Ok, good. I’ll be happy. Anyway, I’m old. I won’t last long in jail),” he added.
Early this month, the President ordered government troops to kill any armed communist rebels and give their bodies back to their families. Duterte issued the order after denouncing extortion and other atrocities committed by the rebels in the country.
In his remarks Thursday, Duterte explained he would rather have the rebels dead than his soldiers.
“Ang sabi ko sa military, ‘Patayin mo.’ ‘Pag naghawak ng baril diyan ang rebelde na ‘yan, ayaw kong makita ang sundalo ko nasa kabaong (I told the military, ‘Kill them.’ If the rebel has a weapon, I don’t want to see my soldier in a coffin),” he said.
“Sila ang gusto kong makita na nakalantad diyan patay. Iyan ang gusto ko kasi you — ako ‘yong Presidente (I want to see them lying there dead. That’s what I want because I am the President),” he said.
After spewing the latest harsh rhetoric against the communists, the President still expressed readiness to talk to the rebels and even visit their camps. He also promised to offer houses and livelihood to rebels who will lay down their arms and surrender to the government.
The government scrapped the peace talks with the communist rebels in 2017 and later declared the group as terrorists. Dismayed with the rebel atrocities, Duterte has repeatedly ordered the troops to finish off the armed communist group.