Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Rosh Hashanah
Beit Yaacov Synagogue, Salcedo Village, Makati City
04 October 2016
Thank you very much and can you please sit down. Thank you for the courtesy.

Secretary Yasay of my government; Secretary Esper—ah, General Esperon rather, Secretary of the—he’s my National Security Adviser; Effie Ben Matityau, it’s pronounced Efay Ben Matit Yau, the first Ambassador to the Philippines; Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria, Rabbi Elayhu Azaria, that’s how it’s pronounced; Mr. Rossenberg, Mr. Lee Blumenthal, the Director with U.S. Community in the Philippines; ladies and gentlemen:

I came here with a prepared speech. So that we can be together and meet to share the blessing of the day for the Rosh Hashanah. But more than that, I will not read my prepared speech. I would rather just deliver, maybe, what my presence here or it was a compelling one. First, because I’d like to greet you on your holiday and second because, I would like to apologize. And it comes from the heart.

You know, I have been mayor of Davao City for the last 23 years, then I was a congressman, a member of the assembly, then also, I was a vice mayor to my daughter and before that, I was 10 years a prosecutor in court.

You know, it’s my character and I’m easy to—that’s how, that’s what I am. Well, I am I and you are you. And God created me to be in this way, I suppose. But one day, when I was coming home from Laos, I was a bit tired, we were on the plane. We arrived at 2 o’clock in the morning from the ASEAN Summit. And, part of the briefing was really that I was pictured by the media guys, especially those who are against me, on the political side, the other side of the fence, that I was portrayed and pictured as a Hitler.

And so true to my character actually. I am one who would never say ‘no,’ I am not that. I just would ride and say, ‘okay, Hitler and I will slaughter this three million drug addicts.’ But in doing so I mentioned the word ‘Jewish’ and that was what was terribly wrong. And for that, I apologize. But I am never— [applause].

And as you can see, I am not one of the racist members of this Republic. Be it the Moro tribe, the Muslim or any other region, you have never heard me talk about race and religion. While it was only because that they pictured me to be killing so many persons and because of the drug problem.

And I would say that it is true. But not all were killed with their backs, tied behind their backs. That would have been an exaggeration.

When I was mayor, I realized of the drug severity in Davao City. And so, I had to control the flow of drugs and control crime, because whenever there are so many drugs, there are so many crimes because a pusher, a user, is always a user, a pusher, and he pushes to another person to have, to contaminate another one, to spend for his behavior. And this victim will now look for another victim and so on and so forth. And that is why, an infiltration of an epidemic. And it was appalling and I was very certain of what I was doing.

In Davao, this is what I—I’d say that if you are a criminal and your intelligence people would tell you this: You’re a criminal, if you’re a drug lord, if you are a for a kidnap for ransom, gun for hire, go out of the city because I will kill you. Because I have to build the city, a habitable city, one that people will enjoy to live. And there are many Israelites there in Davao and they can tell you that it’s not only up to those threatening words. Because there is no law in my land which says that I cannot threaten criminals.

And that’s unaccepted in other countries when you threaten criminals, enemies with death because they pose a harm or danger against you. It’s perfectly alright.

But you know, that issue which is all garbage in the Davao City politics. But it was not even mentioned, I’m sure you are residents of Manila. And I was here, during even the, you might have listened to the debates, politically. You have not heard any issue about extrajudicial. It was a non-issue to me.

And even during the debates, nobody, no candidate ever came up with that issue. But when my rating went up, I was already number 1, and a viable candidate for the presidency, they dished out that garbage of… It is true and …. It is true that I would be a danger to criminals. I never denied it.

And when I became President, until I was able to squeeze everyone that the naked truth came out. That there about 700, hundreds of thousands of addicts. And we have stopped counting because I’m waiting for the final report, because it would reach a one-million mark.

Now, remember, if you have been a resident of this place, three years ago, you must have heard General Santiago said, that we have already three million drug addicts. If you add that to the one million, I am expecting to be the incremental increase of all of those years, I would have about four million drug addicts.

When I was in Laos, I had a talk with Widodo, President Widodo. And we had this time to talk about drugs in our respective countries and I asked him, “How many drug addicts do you have in Indonesia?” And he answered: “Four million.”

Now, I have this confirmed three million during the time of General Santiago three years before. And I was just playing with my mind that by—so—I said there’s no dissimilarity because I am sure by the end of this year, I would have about four million.

Indonesia is a big country. It has three great islands and it has 240 million people. The Philippines is an archipelago, scattered islands, then also have four million of a population of 1,400,000.

How I am supposed to do? What else could I be? Except to be threatening and maybe, they might just be afraid and stop. It could be a deterrent, if you may. Stop, I said. Because when I became President and squeezed everybody, turns out, you saw on TV. Every people, thousands of them, in every city in the Philippines lining up, surrendering, and seeking to be cured. 

But you know, in the meantime, I was taking a hard stance. And it will be until the last pusher is taken out of the streets. It will be relenting and I will not stop even if it would take me the whole of the six years of my term.

I am putting on the table at risk: My life, my honor and the presidency itself. Means nothing to me. If I’m taken out of office, fine. So long as I’d just say that I’d do my duty and do what I promised to the people. I will stop corruption, drugs and criminality and my God, if I have to die doing it, I will anytime.

That’s what I promised to the people and it is a sacred promise. I will do it and I will not stop despite hypocrisy of the European—EU and America and Obama.

Now, they seem to refuse to understand, I became President midterm. What is left of the money of the government after the election of last June is only good for maintenance, MOOE. Nothing else. And they would say that, ‘why is Duterte killing them?” “Why does not he build so many rehab centers so that they can be cured?” And I said and despite of my explanation, it was never carried by media neither in the domestic or, as I have said, men judge best when they condemn.

So whatever reason you have, it’s none, it’s of no moment to them. I said, I do not have the money, We’re preparing now this budget for implementation of next year. That’s what your government does. This budget that I am operating on was prepared the other year by Aquino but he never foresaw the problem until I became President of June. It was then we realized that there are really millions and millions of drug addicts. And this will destroy the country. I am very sure of that.

Four million scattered around the Philippines with congressmen, governor, mayors, 11 generals, judges in the list. It’s either they are on the take or the generals are doing it themselves. So when I became President, I’ve fired six generals of the Philippine National Police and I warned them that I will really kill you if you do it. You continue with your business, I will kill you because there is no other way to do it.

In face of the barangay, that is the smallest political unit, it’s the barangay then the municipality, then the city, the province. There are 6,000 barangay captains doing their own thing, manufacturing shabu. How am I supposed to deal with—sometimes, I’m tempted really to declare martial law, but it is not feasible, they say; well, fine. That’s why, I declared a state of lawlessness because narco-politics has entered my country just like the failed states of South America.

Well, the portals of the national government was already tainted with narco-politics when they elected Senator De Lima. The Secretary of Justice was responsible under his watch, the one of the bureaus was the National Penitentiary and it was there where drugs were manufactured, drugs were sold.

And so, the story of narco-politics is complete in my country. And you guys in the intelligence community know it. As a matter of fact, I told my Secretary of Defense and of course, General Esperon, this is not to flatter you because I have sinned against you, no, I have apologized. If you accept it, fine. If you don’t, I’m really very sorry. It was not intended. It was just a mental slip of the numbers of three and Hitler. It had nothing to do with the memories of the Jews. Because in my country, we do not tinker memories of our ancestors, that’s a no-no. It was just the play of my tongue. Hitler’s for the number and I said, I would not hesitate to kill these idiots of—I really will. There’s no problem about that. Because if I don’t interdict the problem now, then I will have a failed state by the next generation. I would have compromised.

You know, a drug addict first begins to steal in his own house; he begins to steal on some other people’s house; he gets things that somebody else’s own, and then there was a rampaging crime, there is a social faction, a family dysfunction to start with, a social function in your place then it places everybody in danger.

How many times—who are your residents here? How many times have you read old newspapers detailing how an 11-month old baby was raped? How a mother was killed because the son was asking for money? You are not a stranger to that news, I am very sure of that. That is the reason why my mouth opens like this.

And then here comes the human rights attacking me and Obama and the State Department.

You know, these guys who are mighty and very strong and not realize, they don’t just … they insult small nations. We are a member of the United Nations, so if you are a President of a country whose a member of the United Nations and you rant against me, open the talk and subject matter in the United Nations. Then maybe, the United Nations, for whatever the Security Council will decide to investigate, then they would order one of the organs under the radius is the Human Rights Commission.

And then they should send a rapporteur to investigate me, give the results to Ban Ki-moon and Ban Ki-moon will now call my attention. For what is the United Nations, what is its use if you just insult people without any investigation? And so I said, go arrest them and if they present a violent resistance and if you are the policeman or military man and your life is in danger, kill them.

I just came from the hospital, I just came from another. I lose two policemen a day. Is that really a extra judicial killing? Why would I allow even one single policeman to die if I’m into it? Might as well shoot people at a distance. You need not really go near him and have yourself slaughtered, too.

The problem is, I’m very emotional because America has certainly failed us. Instead of being a friend, it’s their election time and they just, you know, go ahead and talk, reprimand another president in front of the international—is that good?

You have a president, Netanyahu. He does not want himself even corrected in public, he will answer you. You know, I’m sure, you are familiar with how Netanyahu responds to vicious attacks against his policies. You hear him out. He does not hear. America? He does not listen to America. Well just shut up. We have our own problem. We will solve it our way.

But did they ever chastise, can they ever chastise Netanyahu? No. Because he will not allow it. And the other Presidents maybe. But me, I will not. Then what is your defense now? If media misquotes you; if media does not publish all what you say or media slants it a little bit and you have no defense.

Here am I trying to explain. My explanation never reaches the front pages. It is not even given a slight—all they want is—they don’t even know the feelings of the Filipinos or my feelings. They worried of the feelings of the Filipinos or my feelings. They worried of the feelings of EU, of Obama, and the Human Rights.

They are worried about how these guys feel towards the Philippines when after all, they do not really care. And that is why, I said, if this is what happens now, I will be reconfiguring my foreign policy.

Eventually I might, in my time, I will break up with America. I would rather go to Russia and to China. At least, even if we do not agree with the ideology, they have respect for the people. Respect is important. And that is why, I’m here. I really came here to say, ‘I am sorry’ because I respect the Jewish people.

For the life of me, you have never heard a single word. As a matter of fact, my wife is a Zimmerman. She is a descendant of an American Jew. Zimmerman. So why would I defile the memory of the Jews? What would I get if I insult the Jewish people when we have been friends, and even in the matters, I said, of arms. I said, do not buy from anyone except from Israel.

Why? Because we have excellent relations and if you’ll sell us this gadget. They will not include a bug there for them to listen also to what they have sold to us. (laughter) If I get it from America, you are talking here secret: blah, blah, blah, they are listening because before you buy it, they put another screw there. This screw is for us.

Then you can ask the arms dealer here. Please, ask your people who are here to sell us arms. Ask them. Ask them what I tell them and what they tell you. It was a slip, it was of the number of three million and that I was portrayed as a Hitler. That did it. It was never my intention to include. Would it help? I mean, If I do that, if I add another phrase, would it help?

I am sorry, I—that’s why, I did not read the speech. Ka-luho-luho. It does not anything because it will not show my emotions.

The problem with speeches that are prepared is that does not show the person. It cannot transmit the emotion which I would like to—you to feel. So, all of my equipments, we will be buying. I’ve all always told the National Security, General Esperon. He is here? … I said, buy it from the Israel companies because we are safe.

Why buy? Because we are friends and we can never quarrel because we do not own lands there. We cannot be occupying or extending our property there for you to get angry. We are so worlds apart. So what is really the basic common among us? What is the common denominator that makes us decent? God. (applause). God.

We believe in righteousness. We believe in karma. We believe that at the end of this earthly, we all go to one—to our Maker. That has been instilled in us, kindergarten when I was only five years old. I could not have nurtured an idea of slurring even a day.

As a matter of fact, all of my favorite news was the one in—read—in TV, and you know, Eichmann who was, well, those are the things that I read because I marvel in these kind of things.

So again, I cannot—it’s the birthday of my—she’s coming, flying in, my wife. I also, I’m sorry I can not stay long with you. I want to go on with my speech and tell you my life. But it’s not possible. I have to leave because the plane has landed. And I promised there a dinner. So I have to say, please accept my apologies and it will never happen again. (long applause).

We will always be friends and I said, even if we do not share the same structure of government, we have the common denominator and that’s our God. We only believe in one God. I do not want to…. with other religions but I only believe in one God. I do not tinker with so many, there is only one God and that God is yours, too.

Thank you very much. (applause)