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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte flip-flops on calling Marcos a ‘drug addict’

Former president Rodrigo Duterte denies calling President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a “drug addict.”

Rodrigo Duterte 2024-02-27 Flip-flop

Duterte said he could have been referring to the use of drugs such as antibiotics or aspiring, not illegal substances.

After calling President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a “drug addict,” former president Rodrigo Duterte now says he could have been referring to the use of medicines, not illegal substances.

(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that President Marcos is on PDEA narco-list is baseless

STATEMENT

In a press conference on Feb. 27 in Davao City, Duterte was asked to comment on his allegation that Marcos used illegal substances. He answered:

Wala akong sinabi na gano’n. […] Even if you kill me a thousand times, wala akong sinabi. Make it, taking a drug. Pero kung sabihin mong ‘adik,’ wala akong sinabi na gano’n. Patayin ako ni Marcos n’yan.”

 

(I didn’t say anything like that. […] Even if you kill me a thousand times, I didn’t say anything. Make it, taking a drug. But if you say “addict,” I didn’t say anything like that. Marcos would kill me.)

Source: News5Everywhere, LIVE | Press conference ni dating pangulong Rodrigo Duterte #News5 (February 27, 2024), Feb. 27, 2024, watch from 1:00:03 to 1:00:28

He explained that the “drugs” he referred to could be medicines, such as antibiotics and aspirin, because they are all considered drugs.

FACT

In an impassioned speech during a prayer rally in Davao City on Jan. 28, Duterte claimed that members of the military were aware of Marcos being a “drug addict.” He said:

Kayong mga military, alam ninyo ‘yan. Lalo na ‘yung nasa Malacañang, alam ninyo. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, alam ninyo. May drug addict tayo na presidente, p*tang inang ‘yan.”

 

(You from the military, you know this. Especially those in Malacañang, you are aware. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, you know. We have a drug addict president.)

Source: Rody Duterte Facebook Account, PRAYER RALLY January 28, 2024…, Jan. 28, 2024, watch from 3:52:49 to 3:53:09

VERA Files Fact Check: After calling President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a “drug addict,” former president Rodrigo Duterte now says he could have been referring to the use of medicines, not illegal substances.

BACKSTORY

In the Jan. 28 rally, Duterte vehemently opposed the people’s initiative efforts for charter change. He alleged that allies of Marcos, including his wife, Liza, and cousin, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, planned to scrap the constitutional term limits to perpetuate themselves in power. He said:

‘Wag kayo magpaloko. Alam mo, parliament, ang ambisyon n’yan, karamihan galing kay Liza Marcos, pati kay (Martin) Romualdez. Bongbong? Bangag ‘yan. That’s why sinasabi ko na sa inyo ngayon, si Bongbong Marcos, bangag noon. Ngayong presidente na, bangag ang ating presidente.

Source: Rody Duterte Facebook Account, PRAYER RALLY January 28, 2024…, Jan. 28, 2024, watch from 3:52:06 to 3:52:45

The following day, Marcos commented on these allegations:

“I think it’s the Fentanyl. Fentanyl is the strongest painkiller that you can buy. It is highly addictive and it has very serious side effects. And PRRD has been taking the drug for a very long time now. When was the last time he told us he was taking Fentanyl, five or six years ago? Something like that. After five or six years, it has to affect him, kaya palagay ko nagkakaganyan (that’s why he’s like that).” 

Source: ABS-CBN News, Marcos on Duterte tirades: ‘I think it’s the fentanyl’ | ABS-CBN News, Jan. 29, 2024, watch from 0:15 to 0:48

In the same rally, Duterte claimed that Marcos was included in a list provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the lead anti-drug enforcement agency under the Office of the President (OP). He alleged that this “list” is evidence of substance use. He said:

Noong ako po ay mayor, pinakitaan ako ng evidence ng PDEA. Doon sa listahan, nandoon pangalan mo [Marcos].”

Source: Rody Duterte Facebook Account, PRAYER RALLY January 28, 2024…, Jan. 28, 2024, watch from 3:33:34 to 3:33:52

In a Facebook post, PDEA denied the claim and said that the National Drug Information System (NDIS) was established in 2002, during Duterte’s second term as mayor. The NDIS aggregates data on individuals implicated in drug-related activities, drawing from various law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

PDEA explained that upon assuming the presidency in 2016, Duterte introduced a roster initially termed as the “narco-list,” which later evolved into the Inter-Agency Drug Information Database (IDID), also known as the “Duterte list.” However, PDEA asserted that, like the NDIS, Marcos was never listed in the IDID.

Late last year, rumors swirled that Marcos was captured on video taking cocaine, playfully dubbed as “polvoron.” Duterte initially refuted this claim in a press conference on Jan. 7, when he asserted that if such a video existed, it would have already been widely circulated. 

Recent events, however, only serve to fuel ongoing rumors of a conflict between the two political families.

(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Rodrigo Duterte calling President Marcos a ‘drug addict’ needs context)

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Sources 

News5Everywhere, LIVE | Press conference ni dating pangulong Rodrigo Duterte #News5, Feb. 27, 2024

Rody Duterte Facebook Account, PRAYER RALLY January 28, 2024…, Jan. 28, 2024

ABS-CBN News, Marcos on Duterte tirades: ‘I think it’s the fentanyl’ | ABS-CBN News, Jan. 29, 2024

PDEA Top Stories, PDEA: PRESIDENT FERDINAND R MARCOS JR WAS NEVER IN OUR WATCH LIST, Jan. 29, 2024

Broadcaster Dennis R. Lazo, Former President Rodrigo Duterte Meet the Press – Grand Men Seng Hotel, Davao City, Jan. 6, 2024

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)