President Duterte has bragged of his socialist credentials, saying that Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Sison wasn’t the only person to have “principles in life”.
Speaking today (Thursday, August 17) the president hit out at the exiled Maoist leader, the latest salvo in an ongoing war of words between the two.
“How can I not be a socialist?” he asked. “I’m always left because we are only migrants in Mindanao. We went through hardships, we experienced the demolition of our house,” the president said in a speech to police staff in Ozamiz City.
The president also accused Mr Sison of branding others as “fake socialists” because they would not take up arms against the government.
“For that fool, what he wants is for you to be leftist or socialist, you have to join the New People’s Army, get into a fight,” the president said.
He added that if the socialists were to join mainstream politics, he would “jump to their party”. He also said that Sison’s followers acted as if they had “the monopoly of talent in the world”.
“It is as if you are the only ones who have principles in life,” he added.
The president went on to enumerate his leftist policies, including his signing of the free college tuition law, free irrigation, land reform programme and free medicines for the poor.
The president and Mr Sison have been waging a war of words since peace talks between the government and communist insurgents broke down this year. They had previously been on reasonably good terms, and had known each other since Mr Sison was Mr Duterte’s university tutor.
In previous rounds of their spat, Mr Sison slammed the president as the country’s “number-one drug addict” due to his use of highly potent fentanyl painkillers.
He also said that the president was favouring certain drug lords by slaughtering their rivals.
Previously, during his State of the Nation Address last month, the president claimed that Mr Sison was dying of bowel cancer, a suggestion that he angrily denied.