Grace Poe: Yes, Duterte will be a dangerous president

MANILA, Philippines – Dangerous president? Yes.

Thats's what presidential bet Grace Poe said when asked if Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte would be a dangerous leader if he wins as president.

Poe was on a roll criticizing her closest rival on Monday, April 18, amid public outrage against Duterte over his joke on a rape victim.

Poe took a deep breath before answering: “Ikinalulungkot ko nga. 'Yung aking sariling pananaw ito, 'no? Sa mga 'minumungkahi [niya], oo. Ito ay banta na rin sa mga nagawa natin.... Hindi natin p'wedeng sabihin na uubusin natin o extrajudicial ang gagawin natin kasi lahat ng pinaghirapan natin ay mawawala."

(This saddens me. This is my own view. With his proposals, yes. This is a threat to all that we've done already [to strengthen democracy].... We cannot say we will kill them all or we will resort to extrajudicial [killing] because all our efforst will be gone.)

Duterte’s plans of action, she said, are reminiscent of the human rights violation during the martial law period.

Extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests, Poe said, are a threat to the country’s democracy.

“Absolutely. Ito po ay banta sa ating kalayaan at demokrasya 'yung mga bagay na 'minumungkahi kaya ako talagang nababahala ukol dito,” Poe said in a chance interview during her sortie in Las Piñas City.

(Absolutely. They are a threat to our freedom and democracy, these proposals, that's why I'm really worried over this.)

“Ito nga eh, binabalikan natin 'yung mga nangyari noong martial law tapos para bang sinasabi natin na ipagpapalit natin ang lahat para lamang mabilisan ang paggawa ng solusyon, pero at what cost?” she added.

(Here we are, recalling what happened during the martial law, and it seems we're saying we would throw all that away just for a quick solution, but at what cost?)

This is Poe’s strongest statement against the martial law regime so far, as she appeared neutral on the case of the Marcos family and on the burial of dictator President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Poe to benefit from Duterte 'rape joke' fiasco?

With Duterte’s controversial joke on an Australian missionary’s rape in 1989, it remains to be seen how candidates' standing would be affected.

Duterte has bumped off Poe from the top spot in the recent ABS-CBN and Social Weather Stations surveys.

Asked on the matter, Poe refused to answer if she would benefit from the incident against her closest rival.

“'Wag na lang natin papuntahin pa doon, dahil ito ay di usapain kung sino lilipat. Ito'y usapin kung papa'no 'ginagalang dapat ang mga kababaihan, at di lang kababaihan kundi lahat tayo,” Poe said.

(Let's not go there, because this is not an issue of who will shift support. This is an issue of how women should be respected, not just women but all of us.)

Poe maintained that rape is no joke and no “reasonable” person would take a serious crime lightly.

She added it is now up to the people to judge Duterte, as the mayor has refused to apologize for his remark.

The senator also hit the supposed context behind Duterte's statement, saying it was clear that the mayor was referring to the victim not the suspects.

“Hindi natin pwede sabihin na ito ay reasonable, di ito resonableng pag-iisip kahit na sabihin mo na andun s'ya mismo sa line of fire or gutter talk, ito po ay nakadirekta sa biktima, hindi doon sa mga nangbiktima iyong kanyang statement,” she said.

(We could not say this is reasonable, this is not reasonable thinking even if you say he was there in the line of fire or gutter talk. His statement was directed at the victim not at the suspects.)

Poe also took a swipe at Duterte for failing to control his supporters, who would sometimes threaten critics of the mayor.

“Ang totoo n'yan kung anong inaasta ng iyong leader, ganun din iaasta ng mga tagasuporta. So pag iniisip nilang tama ginagawa 'nyo, baka lahat tayo ganun na rin,” Poe said.

(The truth is, the supporters imitate how their leader acts. So if they think what you're doing is right, all of us might end up doing the same thing.) –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email