Duterte threatens to use emergency rule ‘to the hilt’

Philippine president says will quit if enough women protest his kiss

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Wednesday to resort to emergency powers and enforce them “to the hilt” to deal with relentless criticism over his human rights record, crimes and government wrongdoing.

Duterte, who placed the southern third of the archipelago nation last year under martial law to battle Islamist militants, said “there’s no difference actually between martial law and a declaration of national emergency.”

“Even with this meagre emergency power, I will use it to the hilt [to] put things in order,” the brash-talking president said in a late-night news conference upon arrival from a South Korean trip.

He has threatened before to resort to authoritarian rule nationwide if lawlessness worsens beyond control.

Looking exasperated, Duterte warned that he would place problematic government agencies under his office so he could supervise them directly. He has publicly fired several officials for alleged corruption, excessive foreign trips and other unspecified wrongdoings. 

“I’m warning all of you criminals, all, in government or outside of it. I will make radical changes in the days to come,” he said. “For those offices which could no longer be put under control, I will place you under the office of the president. I’ll be the one you’ll face every day.”

It’s unclear what triggered the volatile leader’s latest outburst.

The 73-year-old former city mayor drew widespread condemnation at home after he kissed a married Filipina on the lips in front of thousands of Filipino workers in a town-hall meeting in Seoul.

Duterte has defended his kiss on the lips of a married Filipino woman in South Korea, and said he will resign if enough women are offended and sign a petition calling for him to step down.

Duterte has described Sunday’s kiss as “pure showbiz” intended to entertain a crowd of Filipino expatriates. Feminists called it his “perverted way” of taunting female critics who are angered by frequent derogatory comments, some of a sexual nature.

“If there are enough women to … Well I think if all women here would sign a petition for me to resign, I will resign,” Duterte told a media briefing around midnight on Tuesday upon his return from an official visit to South Korea.

Social media was abuzz with photos and videos of Duterte on stage asking an unidentified woman from an audience of Filipinos to kiss him in exchange for a book he was handing out. The woman, who appeared excited to see Duterte in person, agreed.

Duterte enjoys a rock star status among Filipinos and has a cultlike following among those living overseas. He said kissing women was his “style” during his 22 years as a mayor in Davao City prior to becoming president.

“During the campaign in my mayorship days, I kiss every woman there, lips to lips”, the 73-year old Duterte said.

“The problem is you don’t know me.”

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