MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte told survivors of typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) to take note of politicians who failed to check on them, as well as those who use the calamity for publicity.
Speaking before typhoon-battered residents of Siargao Island in Surigao Del Norte province, Duterte on Wednesday said, "You know, this is as good as any other time for me to say what is in my heart. Watch out for those people who enter politics for their personal gain."
"Remember the people who were really there for you in your time of need.. For the younger people here, realize who was there for you to help you in your most difficult times just like now," said the President, as quoted in a transcript that his office released on Thursday.
"Some people won’t even bother to visit you, or just come here and take photos without bringing anything to give you. When they get here, they just take photos with the residents as a background. They don’t do anything else other than that," he added.
Duterte, who steps down in June next year, said he "won’t campaign anymore because I won’t be President anymore and I can’t run as President again because it’s not allowed."
"I was able to serve you for six years. If you think that I serve you well, or if you think that I have shortcomings, I apologize because this is the best that I could do," he said.
Duterte initially entertained a vice presidential bid in 2022 before registering as a substitute candidate for senator. He withdrew his candidacy earlier this month.
Contenders vying to succeed Duterte have organized relief drives and visited calamity-hit areas in recent days.
Odette, which struck late last week, is the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. It left at least 258 people dead, 47 missing, and 568 injured, based on the latest official report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
More than 600,000 people were displaced, while tens of thousands of houses were destroyed.
Damage to infrastructure was estimated at P2.5 billion while crop losses was pegged at P1.15 billion.