Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has earned quite the reputation for making outrageous remarks. Apart from his controversial drug war, the president is also notorious in the international community for his often contentious quips.
While traditionally a State of the Nation address (SONA) is a rehearsed speech, the strongman president often improvises with his colorful language and harsh comments.
Take a look at some of Duterte's most baffling remarks during his past SONAs.
“Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay. For you will have become worse than criminality itself.”
The president’s critics have accused him of emboldening cops with his shoot-to-kill orders.
But in his first State of the Nation address (SONA), Duterte denied giving free rein to law enforcers, warning them that “there will be hell to pay” should they abuse their authority.
Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay. For you will have become worse than criminality itself.First State of the Nation Address, July 25, 2016
Under Duterte’s term, the country witnessed the summary executions of not just ordinary citizens but countless activists, lawyers and other advocates of human rights, as well. His bloody drug war has resulted in thousands of unlawful killings, including those of innocent children such as Kian de los Santos, 17, Carl Arnaiz, 19, and Danica Garcia, 3. His militaristic lockdown also caused the murder of Winston Ragos, a veteran soldier with mental health issues who was accused of violating the quarantine.
“This government does not condone violence and repression of media.”
Still in his first SONA, Duterte declared that the government “does not condone violence and repression of media.” However, since he took office, his administration repeatedly targeted several news organizations.
In 2017, Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country's most widely circulated daily, was bought up and under the new management, its journalists were “brought to heel.” Broadcast giant ABS-CBN lost its Congressional bid, which marked the ended of an era and resulted in at least 11,000 job losses.
This government does not condone violence and repression of media.First State of the Nation Address, July 25, 2016
Duterte also went after online news site Rappler and its CEO, Maria Ressa who is now facing several charges of cyberlibel and tax evasion.
“When I was a member of the Congress, I was always absent.”
During his second SONA, Duterte pointed to the seat he was assigned to as the 11th Congress' Davao City Representative. He jokingly said that he would always skip not just the SONA but other Congress meetings and bill deliberations as well. His audience of lawmakers found his absences and lack of decorum amusing.
When I was a member of the Congress, I was always absent.Second State of the Nation Address, July 24, 2017
Ironically, the president has called out his political rival boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao for the latter’s absenteeism in the Senate.
“Take no prisoners. Just kill them.”
Taking the opportunity to clarify his instructions to Marawi soldiers during his second SONA, the President said that his orders are for soldiers to "shoot them [Mautes] in the heart and head." Otherwise, "they will be detained here in Marawi. Wala tayong presuhan." Addressing the rebels, he said: “Kainin ninyo pati 'yong dumi ninyo diyan (Eat your s*** there).”
Take no prisoners. Just kill them.Second State of the Nation Address, July 24, 2017
"The illegal drugs war will not be sidelined – instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began."
President Duterte began his third SONA address by building up his contentious "war on drugs." He showed his commitment to ridding the country of drugs, despite critics who have spoken out against the campaign, including the United Nations, which in May of that year urged the administration to stop drug-related killings.
The illegal drugs war will not be sidelined – instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began.Third State of the Nation Address, July 23, 2018
“Your concern is human rights. Mine is human lives.”
In his third annual State of the Nation address, Duterte defended his bloody war on drugs, saying he would not be cowed by human rights advocates.
Your concern is human rights. Mine is human lives.Third State of the Nation Address, July 23, 2018
“When illegal drug operations turn nasty and bloody, advocates of human rights mock our law enforcers and this administration to no end,” he said. “Sadly, I have yet to really hear howls of protest from human rights advocates and church leaders against drug lordism, drug dealing and drug pushing as forceful and vociferous.”
"The girls there, the foreigners are waiting for you gentlemen to visit the place. They are all on the beach, sunbathing."
In his fourth SONA, Duterte veered away from his prepared speech while discussing the rehabilitation of tourist hotspot Boracay, and made a sexist joke about ladies waiting on the beach for men.
The girls there, the foreigners are waiting for you gentlemen to visit the place. They are all on the beach, sunbathing.Fourth State of the Nation Address, July 22, 2019
This comes after he signed the Safe Spaces Act into law a mere three months prior on April 17 of that year.
"If you don't do that now, I will really kill you."
Still in his fourth SONA, President Duterte warned several government agencies to simplify their processes, threatening to kill them if they didn’t. “Pag di niyo pa nagawa 'yan ngayon, papatayin ko talaga kayo.” (If you don't do that now, I will really kill you.)
If you don’t do that now, I will really kill you.Fourth State of the Nation Address, July 22, 2019
He tagged LTO, SSS, BIR, LRA and PAG-IBIG as the top five agencies that needed to overhaul their systems and drastically improve their services.
“They (China) are in possession of the property, so what we can do?”
Duterte falsely claimed that he cannot do anything about the West Philippine Sea dispute since China is “in possession of the property.”
They (China) are in possession of the property, so what we can do?Fifth State of the Nation Address, July 27, 2020
In his fifth State of the Nation Address, Duterte maintained that his hands are tied in the maritime dispute with China. He argued that while both countries have staked their claims, China is in “possession” of the West Philippine Sea.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who served as the Philippine agent in the international case against China, pointed out that Manila already has legal title over the contested waterway from its arbitral victory in 2016.
“I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 elections.”
Duterte claimed he was a victim of the Lopezes’ bias in the 2016 presidential campaign.
During the first five minutes of his 2020 State of the Nation Address, Duterte reiterated his incessant tirade against the besieged broadcast giant and its “oligarch” owners, the Lopezes.
I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 elections.Fifth State of the Nation Address, July 27, 2020
Duterte's statement contradicted Malacañang’s earlier denial of the president’s involvement in the issue.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
You may also be interested with: