MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the Philippines would be better off in the hands of dictators like the late Ferdinand Marcos, as he again lamented difficulties in ridding the country of the drug scourge.
In a speech in Mandaue City, Cebu, Duterte again defended his much-criticized drug war and his campaign against corruption, saying if he stopped now, the country would be in shambles.
“If I stop now, my crusade against drugs, and if there is I said no order in this place, ang corruption will continue, patay (we’re dead). You’re better off choosing a dictator in the likes of Marcos, that’s what I suggested,” Duterte said.
The President then went on to claim that the country could not be run by someone like Vice President Leni Robredo, a lawyer and social activist who belongs to the opposition Liberal Party.
Duterte has thought of stepping down as he complained of exhaustion and difficulties in solving the country’s drug and corruption problems.
He, however, said he was not willing to relinquish his post to Robredo, who is mandated by the Constitution to take his place in case he steps down.
The President has said he would rather be replaced by a military junta or the likes of Senator Francis Escudero or former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator.
The President has made no secret his admiration for Marcos, a known friend of his family. Duterte's father Vicente served under Marcos' pre-martial law cabinet.
Malacañang even said the President might step down if the late strongman's son wins his electoral protest against Robredo.
The former senator had challenged Robredo's victory in the May 2016 polls by 263,473 votes, the closest vice-presidential race in recent memory.
The late strongman had led a dictatorial regime marked by repression of free speech, human rights abuses, and plunder, among others.
The Marcos family is still facing several cases in court over alleged abuses but continues to command loyal following.
Duterte allowed the late dictator's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016 in rites held hurriedly away from public eye.
His administration has also moved to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government, an agency tasked to recover the Marcos' ill-gotten wealth.