MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he is “really a dictator,” but stressed that is it for the “good” of the country.
“If you say I am a dictator, I will be a dictator. Because I will not be a dictator. Nothing will happen to this country if I will be a dictator. That’s true. If I won’t be a dictator with that style now, nothing will happen to our country,” Duterte said before former communist rebels in Malacañang.
The president said he is insulted as activists describe his government as a “US-Duterte regime.”
Duterte said he did not even like to talk to Americans.
“When I said that I would bomb the schools, they said ‘Duterte is a dictator, fascist, this and that, US’ son of a bitch.’ It’s an insult. When did I become a puppet of the Americans?” Duterte said.
“To be honest, I don’t talk to Americans—those military types, arms and such … I don’t want to talk to them,” he added.
After the cancellation of peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the government, Duterte allayed fears from the public as he has no intention to be a dictator, insisting that he just wanted to craft a new constitution to combat corruption in the country.
Earlier, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said that a dictatorship under Duterte is impossible even if the country shifts into a federal form of government.
The president also told soldiers to shoot him if he decided to cling to power and became a dictator.
“When I extend my term of office, even for a day, if I became a dictator…shoot me. I am not kidding,” Duterte said.
Earlier, Duterte also called on Filipinos to reject a dictatorship as he vowed to push for federalism before his term ends.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque described a potential dictatorship as far-fetched, saying that Duterte is an “advocate of the rule of law” and has no intention to perpetuate him in power.