President Rodrigo Duterte addressed a crowd in Malabon City behind bullet-proof glass Tuesday night, saying that the Presidential Security Group insisted on the precaution amid word of an assassination plot against him.
“You know, this picture frame, I don’t have control over this,” Duterte said, sounding apologetic about the bullet-proof glass in front of his podium during a campaign sortie for the ruling PDP-Laban.
“Even if I get mad... the security setup of the PSG… must be obeyed,” he said.
Despite admitting there were attempts on his life, the President poked fun at the situation.
“I think life is just about luck. If it’s really my time, then I can’t do anything about it. Let’s just see how thick this [bullet-proof glass] is. It seems bullets can’t penetrate this, but slingshots can,” he added to laughter from the crowd.
The Palace said not even assassination plots would keep the President from his public engagements.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said he did not have any specific information about such a plot but said attempts to kill President Duterte are not new because he has many enemies.
“You know the President has a lot of enemies... And he wants to fight all those elements of evil in this country,” Panelo said in a radio interview with dzRH.
Asked if the “enemies” he mentioned refer to leftist organizations, drug syndicates, or the political opposition, Panelo said: “That’s it already, all of them; maybe among others or whichever.”
Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra, current deputy commander of PSG, said they needed to put up the bullet-proof glass because the venue was an “open area.”
“PSG’s mandate is to protect the President, thus, multi-faceted threats are usual considerations. With or without [an] outstanding threat, it is but imperative for PSG to implement the highest security protocols,” Niembra said in a statement.
“In every engagement, assessment of the venue is conducted in order to determine the type of security measures needed to be enforced,” he continued.
“Whilst our President wanted to have close encounter and dialogues with the people, PSG acknowledges the need to balance security and accessibility of the President,” he added.
In his speech, Duterte warned politicians that he will send an army battalion to arrest politicians who will use violence and armed goons to intimidate voters.
“Make no mistake in using goons because I will be sending an army battalion, that’s true. I will order the Armed Forces to go in Malabon and seize all the arms,” Duterte said.
The President also reminded the police and the military forces not to involve themselves in partisan politics.
“Be neutral or I will cast you out. You must be in the middle. I will not allow the police or the military to be used by anybody—whether they are in my party or [an] adversary in politics,” Duterte said.
“Their job is to maintain law and order without fear or favor. That’s the order of the Constitution, that’s what we must follow,” he added.
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