Interview

Press Conference of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prior to his Departure for his Official Visit to Japan

Event Departure for an Official Visit to Japan
Location Davao International Airport, Buhangin, Davao City

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: We’re quite late but I can take about one questions only. One questions. [laughter]

Q: Yes. Good evening, Mr. President. Sir, I would just like to ask, what’s the reason behind your decision to replace Usec. Abella and why did you choose Congressman Roque?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: My… the reason is my personal decision. I am not about to explain why I did it.

Q: Why did you choose Congressman Roque, sir?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Well, again, my decision is mine only.

Q: Okay. Sir, what’s next for former Usec. Ernie Abella? Will he be given another position in the government?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: I will answer you when he’s there.

Q: Okay. Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Thank you. Another question. May bagyo pa naman sa Japan. Sige.

Q: Good evening, Tatay Digong.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes?

Q: I am from Kyodo News. I have two questions.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes?

Q: What are the key issues you will discuss with Prime Minister Abe and what do you expect to achieve from this visit?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes. One is security of the regional threat and of the entire world. We had been in discussion, together with the rest of peace-loving neighbors and even I had the chance to talk to Secretary Mattis.

All was security and probably, the main agenda would really be how to deal with this problem if it gets worse.

And the other side of it is trade and the… maybe I will discuss with him the tariff of the so many things that we export to Japan. That would keep me busy for the rest of the day in my meeting with him. Okay?

Q: One more question. How do you regard Japan’s Emperor and Empress and why? And one more. Your thoughts on your coming meeting with the Emperor?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: I suppose that I have to limit my mouth there, except maybe to bring the warm greetings of the Filipino nation, a grateful nation to Japan, as a matter of fact.

And actually it’s kind of a homage to see the Emperor before he abdicates.

One of the reason was really that before he steps down, he wanted to see the leaders of — the last time, I was not able to do it because his uncle died. And that is why I have to go back. One of the reasons. Okay?

Q: Maraming salamat po.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Maganda ang Tagalog, taga-Bulacan ka ah. [laughter]

By the way, meet the new Spokesman ng Malacañan, Presidential Spokesman. He will carry my word to the public and he’s very competent, able, lahat na.

It’s in the messaging, actually. We cannot speak the same words altogether but how he would convey that message from me would be most important.

I trust that he’d be able to come up to the expectations. Questions?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Dana Batnag of Jiji Press? Thank you, Mr. President, for this honor.

Q: Good evening, sir. I’d like to ask what assistance the Japanese government can give to the Philippines with regards your efforts against terrorism and Islamic extremism? And the second question is about the peace process in Mindanao. As you mentioned, the Japanese government is very supportive of the peace process. So what is the update about the BBL? Is it something that can be passed by next year? And can you update us on where the peace process is now?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: You know, this thing about terrorism and extremism occupies a lot of space during our talks with everybody, especially world leaders.

We are all committed to destroy this ideology which knows nothing except to destroy and kill.

But more than that, Japan has advanced the news that they will help in rebuilding Marawi. So with China, papunta na dito ‘yung equipment nila. And I have something for you about money and the things that would [inaudible].

But I… I have to talk to the Cabinet first. That would be maybe Monday when I come back. I have to seek clearance also and the concurrence of the Senate if we could.

But I will make an important announcement through Presidential Spokesman, through Secretary Roque.

Q: Sir about the BBL?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: The what?

Q: The BBL po sir?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes, we continue to talk and I hope that Congress would expedite its approval.

I have committed to the main rebellion fronts, the MI pati MN, that we will work for a federal setup and maybe grant them the territories that they want and the kind of framework of governance that they expect with a reformation of all the things in the Philippines.

If we do not act on it expeditiously, I think that we are headed for a trouble. We must continue to talk and I will urge Congress to fast-track it because they are getting impatient.

And I told them of the wages of how to negotiate peace. Sabi ko, “Sandali lang but we will comply on our side what we have promised.”

Eh that is a commitment eh. Not even a promise but a commitment to the Moro people.

Q: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes, ma’am?

Q: Good evening po.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Good evening.

Q: I’m Akiko from the Asahi Shimbun.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Are you joining me to Japan? No?

Q: Yes, of course, I’m [inaudible] yes. On counter-terrorism, what was the lesson the Philippine government learned after the Marawi incident? And are there anything that you can share with Prime Minister Abe? Also, about the reconstruction of Marawi, what do you expect… what kind of support do you expect from Japan? Thank you.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: I think the damage alone and the dimension of the destruction, we would tell Japan that we need their very best in their assistance. And I do not doubt that Japan can graciously give us the help that we — of course, we do not expect that Japan would solve all the problems for us. But I — I would see significant assistance, considering, I said, the dimension of the destruction.

I am hoping that we can improve on these things periodically because we need really to rehabilitate Marawi.

The failure to rehabilitate Marawi could — could have grave consequences for Mindanao and for the entire country.

Q: Can I have one more — one more?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: No more?

Q: Thank you…

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes, for Japan, because I’m going there. I —

Q: Oh sir, it’s about US. You are expecting to meet — have bilateral talks with President Trump soon in November…

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes.

Q: And as you know, Prime Minister Abe is a good friend of Mr. Trump.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes.

Q: Are you planning to ask any secret or, you know, how to deal with Mr. Trump and you know, the — how to be, you know, be good friends with Mr. Trump?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: I — I would deal with President Trump in the most righteous way, welcome him as an important leader, as a matter of fact, the important leader on this side of the planet.

And, I would have to also listen to him what he has to say. My responses would be calibrating of what he would ask me.

But as a friend, I have not — I have not met him personally. But I see that… I have noticed that we — we, we move our — our mouth — mouths in, in the same cadence ‘no?

For example, like declaring a national emergency regarding the drug issue. But these are on the level of a societal problem. It’s not a problem of law and order. There are no warlords there.

Maybe, illegal ha— illegal handguns, very few far and in between, not the kind of the drug problem that we have here. That including mayors and barangay captains are affected heavily.

So, it would be terrorism, cooperation between the two countries, the fight against drugs, and all of these, I said, expect to be dealing with him around these topics.

Q: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: And of course, may — I forgot. The main or the — the opening agenda would really be Korea. We are worried, all of us, that you know, Murphy’s Law. “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” So, that has always been a problem for us.

Q: You mean you want to talk that with Mr. Trump or Mr. Abe — Mr. Trump, of course, maybe?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yeah. Yes. I — I’m sure that we can agree, the three of us. I’ve talked to Trump over the electronic waves. I have personally talked to Minister Abe.

So, I said that a lot of those things would occupy a good space of our meetings.

Q: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Sino pa?

Q: Sir, maayong gabii, sir. David Santos po, sir. Mayor, now that the Marawi crisis has ended ‘no and moving forward, of course, as you’ve mentioned earlier, there are many lessons to be learned. And there are sectors now, cause-oriented groups, as well as some residents calling — siguro as part of the closure for this, to call for an — a deeper probe, a congressional probe perhaps, to look into what really happened, why it happened, and the government’s response. Your reaction — your thoughts on this po muna, Mayor?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Well, I can only answer you in the sphere of my environment. And it would be the Executive Department and for the Armed Forces and the police to study very carefully how it evolved and how to fight a new war.

Because usually, it is an urban terrorism and you are — you are up against concrete and higher…

That’s why in — it is a — a universal fact that in the Middle East, it took them one year, two years to do it. It’s because there is always a high-rise building, where you can position yourself comfortably while waiting for the kill, and I said, in penetrating a lot of almost indestructible cover.

‘Yan ang bago. On the side of the civilian sector, it’s always… I said, Monday after [inaudible], I shall talk to the Cabinet. Secretary Roque would have the news for you. We are about to do something in the faster alley.

Q: My second question po, Mayor. Well, some residents perhaps overwhelmed by the devastation as a result of this five-month conflict, are floating the idea — again, with emphasis, some residents lang, Mayor — of suing the government, of filing a class suit against the government, supposedly for converting the city into a wasteland, as a result of this fighting. Your thoughts on this, sir?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yes. It’s well within their rights to do that. I agree with you that if you have a gripe, and you think that justice should be done, and if they think that the Philippine courts would be prejudiced or biased, they can always go to the International Criminal Court.

But let me answer you here and now, that I declared martial law to answer the challenges of the moment and I take full legal, criminal, and civil liability. Ako ‘yun.

I hold myself solely responsible for what happened, including what — the things that — the incidents there, the events that transpired. Sabi ko, “I take full responsibility for all.”

Q: Thank you, Mayor. Salamat.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: You will not — You’ll be happy to see me in prison? Ah, okay. So, no problem.

Q: Sir, good evening po. Lately, there were changes in your ano. You — you replaced Secretary Abella with Secretary Roque. And then, you also got — the PNP, the war against drugs, it’s already with PDEA. What else do we — could we expect from you in the next few days as parang change of track or something like that?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: If you decide to join us, Ms. Regalado, that would complete the story for tonight [laughter].

Q: Sir, uy. Hindi, sir…

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Ikaw tatanong diyan, what else?

Q: Ah, okay. Next… Okay, next question, sir. In the face of all — diba, ang dami, may destabilization move from within and then from the outside, dami. Could you just give us specifically ano talaga ang mukha ng ano na ‘yun, anong grupo? Who really wanted you out? Aside from politics, there’s also ano. Ano ba talaga, sir?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: First, I think the lesson there is — it’s the first group is me.

Q: You want yourself out?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: I would be happy to…

Q: Okay.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: … Step down.

Q: Then from the outside?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: From the outside… No, the outside is really a dangerous world. It — when you talk of the outside world, we — we are a strong nation, and we will build a more stronger Armed Forces and police.

But the threat or the challenges or whatever warnings or cautions, maybe it’s really terrorism and Korea.

In ano — another nuclear holocaust, I do not see any future for us, because maybe a day after all are exploded, I may not see you anymore in this planet. Maybe in heaven. I guess I’ll see you in heaven? See you in heaven.

Q: I’ll call you in heaven na lang po, sir. Okay. Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Mayor, one more?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Yeah.

Q: Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Pleased to meet you.

Q: And now, Japanese people are interested in North Korea issue. So, Mr. President, what do you think about North Korea’s long-range missile development? This is the first question. And the second question is, how is your impression of Mr. Kim Jong Un, leader of the DPRK? These two questions.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Well, I said, it’s — a nuclear war is totally unacceptable to everybody. And somebody has to talk to Kim Jong Un. I know that — I have joined the echo of — for him to do… to just lower a bit your aggressiveness.

But, nobody really — well, all leaders agree that he is a dangerous man.

You must remember that he is a leader of his people. Whether or not — whatever he proclaims himself to be, somebody has to talk to him.

And the more that we go into the rhetorics, actually, which is also the favorite subject matter here in my country. Somebody has to go there.

It would be good if America, Japan, Korea, and Mr. Kim Jong Un to talk and to convince him to sit down on a round table and just tell him that nobody’s threatening him, that there will be no war, and that if he can just tone down or stand down, stop the threats, and that would be the same for America.

Just to assure him that nobody’s after you, and America is not about ready to destroy a generation or a nation of people.

That is not acceptable now. Maybe in the past. So, if somebody could just reach him out, talk to him and say something like, “My friend, why don’t you just join me in the table and we’ll just talk about these things?”

And for America, Japan, Korea and all, including the Philippines, that they will guarantee that no threat in the offing, or there is no plan at all really to remove him, and that he would just stay where you are right now, we can start with the talks and perhaps talk to him and say, “In the meantime, we are not stopping you forcefully, but it would be good — it would go a long way if there is somebody whom you can talk to.” And these are the countries that would make a difference.

Nobody’s talking to him. I don’t know about China. But the one single country really that can calm him down, China. And the one country also threatened, together with Japan, of a nuclear war would be China, Japan, and South Korea. And the rest of the world.

Q: Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: More? Surrender man na kayo.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Okay. Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Salamat po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the media.

—END—

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