Toward the end of his SONA, the president took back the olive branch he had extended to the Left.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address, he stood behind a pulpit and declared he is a bully, especially when dealing with “enemies of the state.”
He was directing his tirade at the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), with whom the government had been trying to negotiate a peace deal.
“That’s why this… bully. You know I had dinner with them, sa Bayan. Itong (This) NDF because—I used to be friends really with the NDF. I was crossing the, the ideological borders before. Ako 'yung nakakapasok sa teritoryo (I can enter their territory) and we were friends really. But times have changed because God placed me here and I take of a Republic—take care of a Republic. [inaudible] Sabi nila doon, bully daw ako (They said I’m a bully). Eh tarantado pala kayo, talagang bully ako (You fools, I’m really a bully). [laughter and applause] Putang ina (Son of a bitch). Talagang bully ako (I’m really a bully), especially to the enemies of the state."
(Source: RTVM, 2nd State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, House of Representatives, Quezon City, July 24, 2017, watch from 1:35:40 to 1:36:38)
The president’s anger stemmed from the July 20 statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines—which the NDFP represents in the peace talks—calling his order to rearrest consultants of the NDFP “a strongman’s act of bad faith aimed at bullying the NDFP to bow to his terms of surrender.”
“Itong Communist Party of the Philippines, it’s published yesterday, that the NDF branded me as a bully. Correct! Tama ka diyan...100 percent, I bully people who try to topple government and all the enemies of the state. That is my job to bully you. And to kill you because there is a war going on between us and you. And you are killing my soldiers and policemen, so I bully you. And when the time comes, maybe, I will kill you if I have the chance.”
(Source: RTVM, Speech during the Davao Investment Conference, SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier, Davao City, July 21, 2017, watch from 17:29 to 18:20)
But just minutes after his SONA, Duterte marched out of the congress halls and out on the streets where “SONA ng Bayan,” a protest rally, was being held.
He went up on stage and faced the activists and militant groups, and backtracked on his earlier statement.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) met with Duterte at Malacañang on July 18 to inform him of the upcoming SONA rallies and discuss issues like martial law in Mindanao and the stalled peace talks.
He then said:
"Kung mag-uusap tayo, may hindi kayo gusto sa akin, sabihin niyo sa akin sa Malacanang. Putang ina, pinapapasok ko kayo lahat doon. Kausap ko lang ang Bayan. Bully, bakit kita bullyhin? Sino akong mag-bully sa inyo? (If we are going to talk, if there’s something about me that you don’t like, tell me in Malacanang. Son of a bitch, I’ve allowed you to enter there. I just talked with Bayan. Bully, why should I bully you? Who am I to bully you?)"
(Source: Visit to the State of the Nation Address, Protesters’ Rally, July 24, 2017, watch from 3:46 to 3:59)
Yet he went on to challenge the protesters to throw a grenade at him, with the Presidential Security Guard (PSG) as his only line of defense.
“Ginagawa ko na ang magawa ko eh putang ina pati yung convoy ko, inaambush. Pati ako gustong patayin. Eh di sinong kausap niyo? Alam ba ninyong nandoon ako (I’ve been doing what I can do yet, son of a bitch, you still ambushed my convoy? You also wanted to kill me. To whom will you talk then? Did you know that I was there)?"
(Source: Visit to the State of the Nation Address Protesters’ Rally, July 24, 2017, watch from 6:03 to 6:15)
The president referred to the morning of July 19, when 10 PSG personnel in a two-vehicle convoy exchanged fire with the New People’s Army at a checkpoint in Arakan, North Cotabato, while on their way to Cagayan de Oro City to prepare for Duterte’s visit.
Later on, however, authorities clarified it was an encounter, not an ambush. The PSG were the ones who fired first, upon learning that they were dealing with the NPA who supposedly disguised themselves as soldiers of Task Force Davao.
The PSG also said it was not a presidential convoy and they were just conducting a “normal administrative movement.”
Talking to the communists is part of the current administration’s six-point peace agenda. The exploratory talks resumed in Oslo, Norway last year after negotiations stalled in 2014.
Both parties reached the fourth round of formal talks before the Philippine government refused to continue to the next round, citing as reason the directives of CPP to its armed units to intensify attacks against the government following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May. (Read more: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Peace or war?)