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Rody backtracks on secession, denies drug yarn on successor

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Former President Rodrigo Duterte backtracked on several issues in a press conference on Tuesday night, including his call for his home region Mindanao to secede from the Philippines, saying that he “does not want any part of the country to be taken away.”

Duterte also denied accusing President Marcos of using illegal drugs and said his successor should adhere to the guidance of his own legal counsel about the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the drug-related killings during his time as Chief Executive.

Last week, Mr. Marcos stood firm on his stance that he will not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines.

On Mindanao, Duterte added that he does “not want my country dismembered.”

“I do not want a part of my country taken away. I do not want my country to be disturbed physically even the slightest. It goes for Luzon hanggang Jolo,” Duterte said. “I woke up in this world, Republic of the Philippines. For as long as I live it will be the same Republic of the Philippines.”

In January, Duterte raised the idea of Mindanao seceding from the Philippines through a process based on gathering signatures.

He said it was Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez who first pushed for the “desirability of Mindanao seceding from the Republic of the Philippines.”

Duterte said that he would now support any proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution, but only relating to the economic provisions, dovetailing with the current administration’s stance.

Meanwhile, after challenging Mr. Marcos to take a drug test last month, Duterte on Tuesday said: “I did not say that. Even if you kill me a thousand times, I did not say that he is a drug addict. Make it ‘taking a drug.’ Marcos will kill me for that. Have mercy on me, I am old.”

“If I can say it to Marcos, I can say it for all. Antibiotics, aspirin — they’re all drugs… I did not say he’s an addict. Marcos might kill me. I’m afraid to die because I’m already old.”

In January, Duterte called the President “bangag” (high on illegal drugs) during a prayer rally in Davao City.

The former chief executive also claimed that Mr. Marcos was on the watchlist of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which the agency later denied. He further claimed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other officials know about this “addiction.”

The President, in response, laughed off the accusations, and said “it must be the effect of fentanyl,” a powerful painkiller Duterte has admitted to taking during his term.


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