Elicited by protests against the killing of 17-year-old Grade 11 student during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he’ll step down if the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) ask for it.
Duterte said there is no need for a coup or overthrow as he would willingly give up power to the AFP Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año and other generals if they request for him to resign.
“A coup d’état? That’s not necessary. All Año has to do, or the commanding generals of the Armed Forces, all they have to do is to come here or tell me, ‘You step down.’ I will give it,” Duterte said in a press conference.
Duterte insisted he has “no illusion” on staying in power for five years more.
“There’s no problem… I have no illusions about staying for five years,” he added.
Duterte even encouraged critics to go the streets and said he would not stop them in initiating “himagsikan” or uprising.
“You want to war against government? Go ahead. I am encouraging you to take to the street… Himagsikan is uprising. If you want that, go ahead. You have my blessing. Nobody will stop you in the streets,” the chief executive said.
Duterte stressed, however, he will step down if the people take violence and if found he is the only one defending the government.
“But if you take violence as your option, I said go ahead, and let us find out… If I find or found out later that I am the only one defending the government, then I would be happy to go down,” Duterte added.
On Monday, protesters gathered at the EDSA People’s Power Monument and walked to the place where the 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos was killed as a sign of protest to the death of the student allegedly orchestrated by the policemen.
The Patriotic and Democratic Movement (Padem), a group claiming to represent soldiers and policemen, yesterday called for the president’s dismissal for betrayal of public trust, allowing China to inhabit the West Philippine Sea, and by provoking the police to commit extrajudicial killings.
The Duterte government has been under attack over the increasing deaths and other supposed abuses tied with the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
Some groups initiated mass actions and protests condemning the death of Delos Santos and criticizing the culture of impunity in the Philippines.