PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte at the South Korea-Philippines Business Forum in Seoul. — AFP

By Arjay B. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte, in a speech before South Korean businessmen on Tuesday, June 5, assured their protection from criminals and corrupt officials while they do business in the Philippines, vowing “law and order” and warning corrupt officials that “I will go after you. And if I find it necessary, I said, maybe I will kill you.”
Improvising on his prepared speech at the Philippines-Korea Business Forum in Seoul, as organized by the Korean Federation of SMEs, Mr. Duterte said, “I know that there are lot of misgivings about the law and order situation in the Philippines. And I must admit there were some incidents in the past that did not augur well for people to even consider Philippines as an investment area.”In 2016, former Hanjin Shipping executive Jee Ick-Joo was kidnapped by rogue policemen and killed right in the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Quezon City. The incident prompted outrage amid the PNP’s expanded role in the campaign against drugs and criminality.
“Like just any other country, we’re facing numerous law and order problem including my own National Police,” Mr. Duterte told the businessmen.
“I will not promise you anything but I will force the issue with everybody. It’s either you stop it…. I cannot compromise the greater public interest and for those of you who come to the Philippines,… our guarantee (is) that you’ll be safe and sound. Give me time,” he added to the audience’s applause.
“And I would… assure you there will be law and order,” Mr. Duterte also said to another round of applause.
He added: “I have a new DILG (chief, Interior Department OIC Eduardo M. Año). I have a new PNP Chief (Oscar D. Albayalde). And I will assure you that your efforts to help us and even donating (130 new) motor vehicles to augment the use of mobility in my country will be put to good use.”
“Maybe towards the end of the year. I should have reorganized the Philippine National Police,” Mr. Duterte said further.
The President also flagged “two entities in government that (have) always been somehow the purgatory of my country. Historically, it is the (Bureau of) Customs and the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue).”
“When I became President, I just simply said that I do not (go) for corruption. And since then, I have fired — as of Tuesday, June 5, the government corporate counsel. I have fired so many because of corruption.”
“And if for any reason, anybody in government that delays your papers, investments or otherwise, kindly go to me, ask for an appointment and I would be willing, more than willing, to meet you and hear your complaint,” he said to another round of applause.
“That is how I hate corruption. And so that, if there’s somebody asking for money, do not give anything. Maybe you can slap him and say, ‘Look, idiot. I spent money to come here to invest. I have incurred expenses. Do not do that to me because your President says I can kick you in the — in the ass,” Mr. Duterte said, again prompting applause.
“And to the Philippines listening now, please obey the law. Do not go into bribery. Do not ask for money because that is not allowed. And if you do that, as I promised before this forum, I will go after you. And if I find it necessary, I said, maybe I will kill you.”