President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday asserted that he did not receive help from China to win the 2016 presidential elections and said he was not the type of politician that receives gifts while in office.

During his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26, Duterte said those peddling rumors of China’s influence in the 2016 elections were “idiots.”

“What I did I was just being nice to them. But for some people to say that I was helped by China in being president, these idiots, really. I will never, never do that. Hindi na bale ako hindi ma-presidente, hindi ko talaga gagawain ‘yan,” he said.

Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said earlier in July that he had “a most reliable international entity” tell him that Duterte’s 2016 victory was influenced by China.

“On February 22, 2019, we received information from a most reliable international entity that high officials from China are bragging that they had been able to influence the 2016 Philippine elections so that Duterte would be president,” del Rosario said.

Said Duterte: “Maybe in some Chinese communities, the gossip going around was that ‘support Duterte.’ But the whole of the Chinese community in the Philippines went for me. Why? Kasi sa Davao noong mayor ako, ni minsan hindi ako tumatanggap maski Christmas gift.”

When he became president, Duterte said he was offered guns, luxury watches and other gifts—all of which he ordered returned.

However, he accepted a house from his close friend, preacher Apollo Quiboloy.

Anticipating criticism that the gift will be in violation of anti-graft laws, the president said he would accept the gift after he retires from politics.

“Ang title niyan nasa sa developer pa kaya hindi ko mailagay doon sa ano ‘yong sa ano. Bakit ko ilagay na hindi pa ako nag-retire e ang usapan namin ni pastor, pag-retire ako doon ako titira,” he said.

Friendship with Xi

Duterte boasted about his friendship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, saying it had been beneficial for Filipinos especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Hindi ako tinulungan ng China. Nag-usap kami ng China civilly but after election. And after election, I was a good friend of President Xi, until now,” he said.

Duterte said the first country he called for help after the pandemic broke out was China.

“Sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), we have no vaccination program here because we do not have the vaccines. We have not been able to invent one. We might have a hard time.’ He said, ‘no, it’s okay. We’ll send you,’” recounted Duterte.

The Philippines has received at least 17,000,000 Covid-19 vaccines—the majority being of the Sinovac brand—from Chinese manufacturers since the pandemic broke out.

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in the Philippines on February 28–500,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines from Sinovac. John Ezekiel J. Hirro