President Rodrigo Duterte’s words by default is news due to the weight and import of his office being the highest in the land.
But as many Filipinos, and even foreigners, are now quite accustomed to, Duterte has a predilection to shoot from the hip, go off-script, ramble on, or make light of certain situations through his own brand of humor.
Here are some of his top newsworthy soundbites that made the biggest news this year.
1. “Kainin ko pa 'yang ashfall na 'yan. Pati Taal, ihian ko pa 'yan, buwisit na 'yan.”
Duterte made this statement in January after he vowed to visit areas affected by the Taal eruption despite the risks posed to his health. He also apologized during that time for not immediately flying to Manila due to the ash fall.
2. “Idioto na corona ito. Hinahanap ko gusto ko sampalin ang g*go.”
Duterte made this remark in February back when the COVID-19 virus was still making its way to the Philippines and across the world. Duterte then said he is confident that “we can defeat this virus.”
3. “Tayo ang nauna sa Asia.”
Duterte claimed in April, as the pandemic was steadily gaining ground, that the Philippine government was the first country in Asia to impose lockdown controls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is false as Vietnam imposed a lockdown in February before Duterte put Metro Manila in lockdown in March.
4. “Shoot them dead.”
This was Duterte’s shoot-to-kill order to the police and military last April pertaining to those who would cause trouble during the lockdown imposed to control the spread of COVID-19. Before the month ended, police gunned down a man later identified as Winston Ragos, a former military man said to be mentally ill, at a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon over a misunderstanding.
5. “We have a low rate of mortality here.”
Duterte said this in May while he was giving a rundown of the total infections, recoveries, and casualties to date. The president said the country’s situation is not so bad in his view. But the country then had the second highest case fatality rate in the region.
6. “He will stay there.”
Duterte defended Police Major General Debold Sinas in May after the then chief of the NCR Police Office drew flak for his ‘mananita’ incident that violated lockdown protocols. He also described Sinas as a “good officer” and an “honest one.” In November, Duterte promoted Sinas as chief of the Philippine National Police.
7. “They are in possession of the property.”
Duterte said during this fifth State of the Nation Address last July that there is nothing the country can do over the maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Duterte said that since the country can not go to war and China has the arms, he can’t do anything about the issue.
8. “I dismantled oligarchy in the Philippines without declaring martial law.”
Duterte said this in July days after ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal was junked by the House of Representatives panel on legislative franchises. Duterte has repeated many times before the franchise rejection his disdain for the network which he said treated him unfairly during the elections, a claim that ABS-CBN denies.
9. “I have full trust in you.”
Last September, Duterte stood up for his Health Secretary Francisco Duque amid allegations of corruption and mishandling of the COVID-19 situation. The Senate then also urged Duque to step down for the Philhealth mess. Months later in October, Duterte also stood for Duque who he characterized as “hardworking” and “innocent.”
10. “Ang importante pala sa totoo lang and I realize now, is testing.”
Duterte made this statement in December, saying that he only realized then how testing could help stop transmission of COVID-19. Experts, locally and abroad, have raised the importance of testing since the first cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in March.