Palace clarifies Duterte's recent comment about killing oligarchs
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech after leading the distribution of benefits to former rebels at the San Isidro Central School in Leyte on Jan. 23, 2020.
Valerie Escalera/Presidential Photo
Palace clarifies Duterte's recent comment about killing oligarchs
Alexis Romero ( - January 26, 2020 - 5:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was just emphasizing his resolve to prevent the wealthy from stealing money from taxpayers when he talked about killing "crazy" rich people, Malacañang clarified Sunday.

Speaking to former communist rebels in Leyte last Thursday, Duterte said there are rich people in the Philippines who are "crazy" and that they are the ones "we should kill." He also claimed that the Philippines has been fooled by the rich people, whom he described as "thieves" and "sons of b******."

But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president's statement should not be taken literally.

"You know, by this time, we already know what the President meant. When he said kill the crazy rich, that means you kill the desires of the rich to steal money from the taxpayers, from consumers. That's what he meant, not the literal killing," Panelo said in a radio interview.

"You know the President is graphic. That has been his style," he added.

Panelo said Duterte was also telling the rich that following the law is not optional.

"Do not do that because we have a law and we will implement the law. Following it is not an option. Those who are wielding influence over the higher-ups, you do not follow the law. Not this time. That's what he meant," the Palace spokesman said.

"When he (Duterte) was asked to state his platform, he had a quick response...He said one should follow the law," he added.

Panelo said Duterte uses such language to make his message understandable to his listeners.

"It's not just a figure of speech, it was meant to stress the importance of what he’s saying," Panelo said.

"Kasi ang Pilipino kung minsan, kailangan daanin mo sa golpe de gulat para maintindihan ang sinasabi mo o maging aware ka (Sometimes, you have to exaggerate when talking to Filipinos so they would be aware of what you are saying)," he added.

Panelo said businesses need not worry about their safety and increase their bodyguards because of Duterte's statement.

"You know, if you are not doing something wrong to other people, you need not fear for your safety. No one will seek to harm you," he added.

Duterte has assailed water distributors Manila Water and Maynilad for allegedly using their concession contracts to take advantage of consumers and has threatened to file graft, economic sabotage, and plunder charges against their owners.

The government is also investigating a lease deal between Chevron Philippines and a subsidiary of state-run National Development Co. that reportedly allowed the energy company to pay a monthly rental fee of just 74 centavos per square meter for a 120-hectare state property in Batangas.

Panelo has assured investors that the government would not be reckless in reviewing business deals and that their contracts would be honored as long as they are aboveboard. 

At the same radio interview, Panelo said he was not aware whether former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque would be given a new post or would be tapped to handle the government’s case against the water concessionaires.

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