Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hits all the right notes on Hong Kong visit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked his compatriots to give him four years to fulfil his campaign promises, and said his country was one of the “lucky” ones to be called to the Belt and Road Forum

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 10:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 4:52pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte received a chorus of approval at his only public event during his two-day stay in Hong Kong, which seemed almost appropriate as the controversial leader burst into song ahead of his speech on Saturday.

The president sang a surprise duet with singer Kristine Gonzaga Demeterio to the delight of the 800-strong crowd gathered at the Regal Airport Hotel, who chanted his name throughout his address.

Listen: Duterte sings a duet with Kristine Gonzaga Demeterio

He asked his compatriots to give him four years to fulfil his campaign promises, and said his country was one of the “lucky” ones to be called to the Belt and Road Forum. He said he hoped to discuss trade and how his country could benefit from the economic plan devised by President Xi Jinping.

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The visit to the city is Duterte’s first as president, as he makes his way to the forum in Beijing.

“Just give me three to four years [to get things done] ... Just give me time to stop corruption,” he said. “I am really trying my very best.”

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Duterte supporter Jennifer Lagahit Daproza hoped the president would improve the economy back home so Filipinos do not have to go overseas and work as domestic helpers.

“We want him to eliminate drugs because the drugs cause the crime and the crime rate goes up and then businesses don’t want to come because they’re scared,” she said.

“We have seen such a big improvement ... we feel very positive that before his term ends he will be able to accomplish what he said he would do.”

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Another attendee, who gave her name as Lisa, said Duterte gave their country a sense of pride that was not felt by the community during previous administrations.

The president has engaged in a war on drugs in his country that has killed more than 8,000 accused drug dealers and users.

Despite international outcry against Duterte’s actions, his popularity at home remains high.

Duterte arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday evening, staying mostly confined to his hotel in Wan Chai, and not making official visits with any Hong Kong government officials.

Security was tight at the venue, with police and security guards posted inside and outside the building.

Hong Kong is home to approximately 210,000 Filipinos – most working as domestic helpers – making up 0.4 per cent of the Hong Kong population, according to the Philippines consulate.

Duterte is the second leader of an Asian country to visit the city in the last two weeks.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo made a stop to Hong Kong on April 30, while the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to arrive on Tuesday after the summit.