I’m thinking of stepping down: Duterte

MANILA — Exasperated of the seemingly “endless” fight against graft and corruption, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday said he is thinking of resigning and hand the presidency to a more competent leader who can solve the country’s problems.

Duterte shared his idea during last week’s joint command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the Malacañang Palace.

“I said to the soldiers and police, ‘Guys, I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired’,” Duterte said during the launching of the Go Negosyo’s “Pilipinas Angat Lahat” program at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang.

“While I am not against or angry against anybody, my chase against graft and corruption seems to be endless and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices,” he added.

Duterte said graft and corruption is so embedded and endemic that “it is always a part of the territory of a transaction, especially by government”.

“I said I am getting old and exasperated. I do not think that with the limited three years remaining in my term, I could even hardly make a dent,” he said.

Last week, Duterte fired the entire board and management of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. for leasing government property for “ridiculously long period of time” of 70 years to Chinese firm Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. (LRPDC).

“I was trying to do something about Nayong Pilipino, so I fired all. I’ve been telling everybody, a bid that is not rigged. Time and again, I humiliate them in public,” Duterte said.

He said many unqualified bidders win government projects due to corrupted bidding process.

“They win and they go to the guys who are into business. No equipment, no capitalization, no nothing. And they would just start to sell it, to farm out the bids,” the President said.

Duterte said he did only five basic promises during the campaign, including the fight against corruption and illegal drugs.

“I said I will try to stop corruption which I’m doing and still I cannot succeed even beyond my term. I told you that I will go after drugs and I warned everybody because on what used to be millions of transactions worth, it’s now billions,” he said.

Duterte said drug problems will not end at the end of his term, though his war on drugs has stopped the manufacturing of shabu in the country.

“That is why we were wondering why there is no more large-scale manufacturing of shabu. Well, one is that because if you do it, somehow I will find a good reason to kill you,” he said.

He said human rights groups kept on counting the drug personalities killed in police operation but not the policemen who lost their lives in the performance of their duties.

“To date, I would say that about 1,000 policemen and soldiers died because of the drugs,” he said.

Duterte said he told the military if they want junta in choosing the next leader “and I’d be happy to go home”.

He said there is no need for the military to resort to “melodrama”, such as bringing military tanks, just to force him out of Malacañang.

“All you have to do is to call me, let’s have coffee and say, ‘President, sir, we find you not at par or not in parity with expectation’,” he said.

Duterte said he is hesitant to recommend a constitutional succession, saying Vice President Leni Robredo cannot even “improve on anything here”.

“I have nothing against Robredo. She is a lawyer. You’ve heard talk but I don’t’ think she can improve on anything here. Of course, she will deny it,” Duterte said.

He said Robredo’s hometown, Naga City was a hotbed of shabu.

For those thinking that he would extend his term and be a dictator, Duterte said they must be the “lowest idiot in this country”.

“Really I’m ready to go. I’m telling the military and public and everybody is listening, if you find somebody who is better and more competent, then by all means place him or a group of persons who you think who could bring prosperity to this nation, then do it because I said I’m tired and I think I cannot fulfill the promise of ending all these problems,” Duterte said.

Duterte got an overwhelming 16 million votes to become the first president from Mindanao during the 2016 elections. PNA-northboundasia.com