VP unfit, dictator better bet: Duterte

SUCCESSION::The Philippine president, who has talked about retiring, voiced admiration for Ferdinand Marcos and said Vice President Leni Robredo ‘cannot hack it’

Reuters, MANILA

Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 6

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said graft and illicit drugs were so entrenched in the Philippines that if he were not around, it would be better off run by a dictator, such as former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.

Duterte on Thursday said in a speech that he wanted to quit before his term ends in 2022, but was reluctant to hand power to Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, who was elected separately and was not his running mate.

The vice president has been a critic of Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal narcotics.

Duterte said that there would be disorder if his crackdown was halted and that the Philippines could do with an authoritarian at the helm.

“You’re better off choosing a dictator of the likes of Marcos, that’s what I suggested,” Duterte said. “Constitutional succession, it’s Robredo, but she cannot hack it.”

Duterte’s expressed admiration for much-vilified Marcos has been controversial, with many in the Philippines still tormented by his brutal two-decade rule, ended in his overthrow in a popular, army-backed uprising in 1986.

Thousands of people were arrested, killed, tortured or disappeared under martial law in the 1970s.

Many survivors are reminded of that by the political influence wielded by the Marcos family. His widow, Imelda Marcos, became a lawmaker; his son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, is a former Philippine senator who lost to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential election; and his daughter Imee Marcos is a provincial governor.

Imee Marcos, 62, is expected to run for the Philippine Senate next year and attends or speaks at many of Duterte’s public events around the country, despite having no role in his administration.

She caused outrage last week when she said it was time for older people to “move on” from the martial law years, like younger ones had.

Mercurial Duterte, 73, has been talking more often about retiring, due to exasperation about corruption and narcotics.

Rumors have spread that he is in declining health, which he dismissed on Thursday as “fake news.”

He on Thursday said that amid turmoil in the Catholic church worldwide, he wanted to create an “opening” at home for victims to reveal abuse by priests, which he personally had experienced.

He again joked about rape, despite repeated rebukes from women’s groups at home and abroad.

Commenting on police data showing his home city, Davao City, had the country’s highest number of rape cases, Duterte said there would be more where there were “many beautiful women.”