President Duterte has lashed out at Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales after she criticised his repeated threats to kill suspected criminals.
Speaking today (Monday, July 17), the president said: “Do not play God and shut up” after she “castigated” him in an interview on Japanese television.
During this interview, she described the president’s threats as “unacceptable” and tantamount to “goading” security personnel to murder drug suspects.
In response, the president described her as a “defender of criminals” and told her to control what she says.
“Since when did you anoint yourself spokesman of the criminals?” he asked. “Rein in your mouth because there is a problem.”
The president challenged Morales to name a law stating that threatening criminals was illegal. “Find me a law which says I cannot threaten a criminal with death. If you can do that, I will step down tomorrow,” he said.
The office of the ombudsman exists to investigate and prosecute government officials accused of crime, particularly corruption.
The president then went on the attack, criticising Mrs Morales and the office of the ombudsman in general. “Why, the Ombudsman isn’t corrupt?” he said. “Ask those with cases there.”
He then implied that he himself had experience of shady dealings with the Office of the Ombudsman when he was a Davao City prosecutor.
The office, he said, went after low-level government workers who ended up facing corruption charges for following orders from more senior officials.
“You listen, maybe you don’t know this,” he said. “When a mayor says sign, the treasurer will sign.
“When you tell the chief of police what to do, he’ll say ‘yes, sir’. They don’t have a choice.
“It’s only the mayor who’s corrupt then you file charges against everyone.”
He then likened Mrs Morales to President Obama, who he famously called a “son of a whore” for criticising his war on drugs, saying: “I’m having a hard time here and you pull an Obama?”
Mrs Morales is only the latest public figure to feel the sharp side of the president’s tongue for criticising his war on drugs. He has previously berated Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria.
However, in a separate speech today, he took a more conciliatory tone towards critical words from former president Fidel Ramos.
At the launch of Ramos’ book “Make Change Work” in Camp Aguinaldo, the president acknowledged the former chief executive’s opinions about his administration.
“President Fidel V Ramos, you are my idol,” he said. “You are my number one supporter and at the same time, you are my number one critic now.
“I respect your criticism. I accept your advice.”
The president added that they both loved their country equally. “And maybe I will mimic your role as president before, I will follow you, just like the t-shirt says, only difference is that I am not a military man,” he said.
“But for the love of country, we are fair, sir. I would say that I love my country as much as you do. And we are ready to die for this country.”
Concluding his speech, the president said: “You can continue criticising me, sir.”