Duterte advises brass he might step down

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By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, Aug. 14, said he advised officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at a recent command conference that he was thinking of stepping down.

“I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired,” Mr. Duterte said in his remarks at the launching at Malacañang of business advocacy group Go Negosyo’s “Pilipinas Angat Lahat” program as he recalled his recent joint command conference with the AFP and the PNP.

He added: “My chase against graft and corruption seems to be endless and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices.”

“I’m tired and I don’t think I can fulfill the promise of ending these problems.”

He said the problem on drugs will “not end” by the end of his term.

Mr. Duterte also said he ordered court martial proceedings against Brigadier General Edwin Leo Torrelavega, commander of the AFP Health Service Command. “Create a court where he will appear in a court with his peers and give him the most humiliating….Fire them all,” he said.

The President then fired on the spot Philippine Military Academy (PMA) comptroller Hector Maraña. He said the official “malversed” P15 million in cadets’ allowance.

“I love my soldiers, even those who didn’t graduate. But do not go into corruption. I will give you hell,” he said.

“Send the guy to hell,” he said on signing Mr. Maraña’s dismissal papers.

The President also claimed that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was “speculating” that a ton of shabu had slipped past Customs officers. “There’s no more shabu laboratory here because they know that if we meet in one corner, I’ll just kill them,” he said.

“I just say, do your job, better luck next time,” he added.

With regards to her constitutional successor, Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, he said: “I am hesitant to suggest a constitutional succession. I have nothing against Robredo. She’s a lawyer, you’ve heard her talk, but I do not think she can improve on anything here.”

“I am getting exasperated. I do not think in the limited three years remaining, I don’t think I can make a dent,” he also said.

He also jokingly said that “There is another dictator in the offing, not me, but she has a Duterte surname. If you go to Davao at 12 midnight everything closes.”

“We have to be careful of the next president,” he added.

Explaining why he conveyed his wish to step down to the AFP and PNP, Mr. Duterte said, “They are only the organizations (that) can control….You must maintain order. That’s your job. Whatever you want to do after, I leave it up to you.”

“No Illusions about dictatorship. At this time, I am willing to step down and retire. Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much),” Mr. Duterte said.