JAKARTA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (Sept 9) said he would allow Indonesian maritime authorities in pursuit of pirates to enter his country’s waters to capture them.
“We can make it clear that if the chase begins in Indonesia and continues in international waters, and inside Philippine waters, they can go ahead and blast them off,” said the firebrand leader, relating what he told President Joko Widodo at the recently concluded Asean and East Asia summits in Laos. “That’s the agreement, blow them up, that’s my word actually with Widodo, I said, ‘Blow them up’.”
Piracy in the South China Sea is a perennial security bugbear that has prompted Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to launch coordinated patrols and set up crisis centres in their respective countries to better respond to emergencies, particularly in piracy-prone areas in the Sulu and Sulawesi seas.
Duterte, who was on his first state visit to Jakarta since being elected president in May, said that he will speak to Mr Joko on how their two countries, as well as Malaysia, can work to secure the sea lanes and fight off piracy.
The President was speaking to the Filipino community at a lunch event held at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Indonesian capital. He had arrived the night before from Vientiane.
During his speech, Mr Duterte also clarified the faux pas involving an expletive he uttered earlier on Monday, during a press conference in Davao.
“I never made any reference to Obama,” said Mr Duterte, referring to United States President Barack Obama. “I never made that statement, you can check it out, check it out.”
He also repeated his stand that he is only accountable to the people of the Philippines and will continue his tough stance on crime, despite criticisms on his human rights record over widespread vigilante and extrajudicial killings since he became president.
Reuters reported on Thursday that his government’s two-month war on drugs had led to 2,400 deaths as of last week, with the police saying about 900 people had died in police operations, and the rest were “deaths under investigation”.
“I do not have any pity for them,” Mr Duterte said, referring to criminals, adding that he wants people to be able to “walk freely” in the Philippines.
On the recently concluded East Asia Summit, Mr Duterte also confirmed that he had veered from his prepared speech to speak about human rights and his campaign against drugs, as well as displaying the picture of Filipinos killed by American soldiers about a century ago.
Mr Duterte is expected to visit Jakarta’s Tanah Abang market with Mr Joko before a bilateral meeting at the presidential palace. Mr Joko will also host Mr Duterte to a State Dinner before his Philippine counterpart leaves for Davao.
Accompanying the president on the visit are Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, among others.