Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Address to Troops on Newly Delivered Air Assets

delivered 12 February 2021, Clark Air Base, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


Kindly sit down. Salamat po. [Thank you.]

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Undersecretary Arthur Tabaquero; Senator Bong Go; AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana; Philippine Air Force Commanding General Allen Paredes; Pampanga Vice Governor Lilia Pineda; Mabalacat City Mayor Crisostomo Garbo; NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Arnulfo Burgos; the officers and enlisted personnel of the Philippine Air Force; mga kasama ko sa gobyerno; mga kababayan. [my colleagues in government; my countrymen.]

How beautiful it is to look at the sky at dusk and to think that we control our skies in our country. I am almost tempted to talk extemporaneous but it. Alam mo ‘pag kaming mga pulitiko ‘pag bumuka ‘yung bunganga, matagal matapos. [You know us politicians, once we open our mouths, it takes us a long time to finish.] And I have to go home to Davao now because I have to fulfill an engagement there.

Our efforts to strengthen our military have been vital in ensuring that we are able to fulfill our sworn and shared duty of protecting our sovereignty and safeguarding the welfare of the Filipino people.

I am thus glad to join all of you today as we laud the many accomplishments of our men and women in uniform who have consistently shown dedication and excellence in serving our motherland.

The presidential helicopter carrying President Rodrigo Roa Duterte flies past the newly delivered air assets for the Philippine Air Force at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Air Base, Pampanga on February 12, 2021. RICHARD MADELO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO. [Source:]

I also congratulate the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for successfully procuring additional government air assets1 that will play an indispensable role in safeguarding our nation.

Recently, I have approved the proposal to acquire more combat utility [helicopters for] the AFP. With our recent gains against various terror groups, I am confident that our efforts under the AFP Modernization Program are already paying off.

I am particularly pleased with your efforts to eliminate terrorist groups in Northern Luzon which have led to genuine peace and sustainable progress in the area, as well as fostered greater camaraderie among [all] government security forces operating in the region.

Today, we confer the Order of Lapu-Lapu, with the rank of Kamagi to outstanding officers and enlisted personnel who took part in restoring peace and order in Sulu in November last year. Your gallantry, bravery and courage are truly exemplary.

Alam mo hindi lahat Pilipino -- not really to derogate our race -- but mahirap itong trabaho na ito. [You know, not all Filipinos -- not to derogate our race -- but this job is hard.] You stare eyeball to eyeball with them. You know, I was just about 16 years old when I took my solo flight. I accumulated along the years of about 800 hours. Ang gipraktisan lang ho namin ay ‘yung [What we practiced on was only the] L-4 -- the World War II vintage spotter plane -- the L-4 and when I stopped, I was flying the Super Cub.

I hope that your fellow soldiers will look up to you as their source of inspiration and strength, especially when it is their turn to face the battlefield.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the inspection of the newly delivered air assets for the Philippine Air Force at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Air Base, Pampanga on February 12, 2021. SIMEON CELI/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO. [Source:]

As we celebrate your achievements, let us also take this occasion to remember [and] honor our uniformed personnel who died in the helicopter crash in Bukidnon. I express my deepest condolences to the families they have left behind.

Nag-usap kasi kami [We spoke] -- but the day after, I was talking to the DND secretary. Sabi ko, "Del, palitan mo na ‘yang [I said, "Del, will you replace the] -- Is there a way where we can replace itong [this] -- the ageing and the old Huey?"

Alam mo atin-atin lang ito [You know this is only between us] but we know deep in our hearts that every time that, you know, old helicopter flies, medyo may kaba tayo [we are quite nervous] that it can falter on its own with nobody -- nobody's intervention. Eh nire-repair nga pero matagal na talaga eh. [Yes, they're repaired regularly but they're really old.] And old, metal fatigue and the constant reboring sa pag-repair [while being repaired], it would take its toll on the helicopter itself.

Sabi ko kay [I told] General Lorenzana na [that], "Is there a way where we can replace them?" Sabi niya, [He said], "We have a pending still order of 32?" (Is it 32?). Well, I can buy more or less madagdagan ko ng lima ‘yan o anim [I can add to that five or six] before I go. Pero [But] I cannot give you the entire 32. It will be spread along -- in a number of years. But maghanap ako na madagdagan ko ng mga maski lima [I will find a way to add at least five] and to phase out [the] Huey. Eh kaganda-ganda ng Black Hawk eh. [The Black Hawk is really, really nice.]

Alam mo ganito ‘yan -- nandito si Chief of Staff [You know it is like this. Here is the] Chief of Staff -- ang problema ho kasi [The problem is] whenever I read my briefer, every night, ang una kong tinitingnan ‘yung mga sundalo kong nasawi [the first things I look at are my soldiers who were killed] and, of course, the wounded.

And it grieves me deeply to realize that we can improve on this in terms of fighting, capability and the airworthiness of ‘yung… Sabi ko na kailangan talaga mapalitan na ‘to. [those…I said these need to be replaced.] I mean, it has come to age for retirement. Hindi na talaga puwede. [They are no longer serviceable.]

So it could be an insertion of the troops or a transport or whatever humanitarian runs that you have to make. Itong mga bago madagdagan lang naman sana. Hindi ito puwede na ganito lang kasi bugbog ito. [Hopefully, we can add to these new ones. This cannot be like this because these are beaten up already.]

‘Pag bugbog ang equipment mo medyo maalanganin rin tayo. So kung madagdagan ng 32 ‘yan [When the equipment is beaten up, we can't be so sure. So, if we could add 32 more] that would about maybe complete really the requirements -- [that's] the standard minimum requirements of a working Air Force, iyan.2

Now the reason why I am so… I am walking on a tightrope, actually. I cannot afford to be brave in the mouth against China because, well, we are avoiding any confrontation -- a confrontation that would lead to something which we can hardly afford, at least not at this time.

Eh ako naman sa [As for me, with] America, well, in the past, marami silang -- ang paghihinakit ko rin. [they had so many -- I have some ill feelings.]  We asked so much of them because they have taken so much from us. Libre sila [They are free] to advance their troops in our land. Okay lang iyan sa akin [It's okay with me] but we do not like it because we want to remain neutral. We do not want to quarrel with anybody.

But for the reason is that the exigency of the moment requires their presence here, okay na lang ako diyan. [I should be fine with that.] But in the past, we ordered so much from them and so much were not delivered at all kaya huwag ninyo ako... [so don't make me…]

Kaibigan ako ng Amerika, kaibigan ako ng [I am a friend of America, I am a friend of] China. But what I don't like is ‘yang para kang bata na [they treat you like a child]. They promise you and they -- ganoon ‘yan eh. Magpunta ‘yung mga top brass nila, [-- it's like that. Their top brass comes,] this group will promise you. Once they take off, they forget all about it and nobody's following until you keep on reminding them.

Until such time that I was able to talk to President Trump, sinabi niya [he said] what are our requirements? "So we need the guided rockets. We have been asking for it and, as a matter of fact, we are willing to pay for it, Mr. President, but until now it's still in the air."

I think it was delivered after a few weeks, a few months. Kaya gano'n ang... [That's why it's like...] Do not be surprised with my...I'm not allied with anybody. I am ally...I'm alay. I-alay ko ang buhay ko pati ang ally ko ang Pilipinas, [I will offer my life and also my ally is the Philippines,] nobody else. Iyon ang tandaan ninyo. [That is what you should remember.]

Kung marinig ninyo ako, [If you can hear me,] it's a...Well, the game here is geopolitics. The theater is really geopolitics. So ako naman [for me], I am just hold on on my salita ko [I have words], not really to seriously offend, but sinasabi ko sa kanila na hindi, hindi puwede ‘to. [I am telling them that I cannot allow this.]

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the inspection of the newly delivered air assets for the Philippine Air Force at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Air Base, Pampanga on February 12, 2021. RICHARD MADELO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO. [Source:]

I would like to put on notice if there's an American agent here, that from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? Well, they have to pay. It's a shared responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free. Because after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay. You, kami, we are nearest to the garrison there where there are a lot of arsenals of the Chinese armed forces.

Iyon lang ang ano ko kaya makita mo minsan suplado -- suplado talaga ko. [That's my only...that's why you sometimes see me as a snob -- I'm really a snob.] I -- when I deal with them, talagang nagiging suplado ako [I really become snobbish] simply because of past and the pinaka-past [most past],3 and until now kung hindi mo makausap ‘yung presidente. [if you can't talk to the president.]4

Dito ngayon, wala akong [Here now, I don’t have] -- I don't expect anything. It's different when it is the Republican and a Democrat. A Democrat, they -- iyong [the] migration. They are allowing migration left and right, but that is their problem. Ang Amerika naman [America in the meantime] is war hawks talaga ‘yan sila, [really they are] but at least ina-ano tayo...Nilalagay lang sa back burner ‘yang mga samaan ng loob. [they are doing…placing on the back burner all their grudges.] So when the opportunity came and I talked to President Trump sabi ko talaga sa kanya, [I really told him,] "We have been hope -- We are hoping for that, we have been promised and until now, it's still kaput." [Ger. for "broken"]And I hope that the Americans would take notice of that. But the nearest -- their nearest possible and convenient outpost would really be the Philippines, the eastern side, and Palawan.

Kaya tandaan nila ‘yan. [That’s why they should remember that.] I hope they would understand that we are a nearest to a theater of war. Ang banatan diyan [The battle there], it could be submarines and aircraft carriers and all. Madadamay talaga tayo. [We will definitely get embroiled in it.] I do not want to participate in any adventure of that kind, if I can help it.

I am not against the Chinese, neither am I a -- ako, hindi ako [me, I am not] pro-American. I am just a Filipino government worker working for the interest of my country.

As we celebrate your achievements, let us take this occasion to remember and honor our uniformed personnel -- I'm reading it twice -- and the others who have died in the battlefield.

Noong pumunta ako ng ano [When I went to] -- just give me about a little.. Noong pumunta ako ng Jolo, noong namatay, [When I went to Jolo, when soldiers died] needlessly, useless ‘yung kamatayan ng binomba. Masama talaga ang loob ko, nakita ko ‘yung kalahating katawan ng sundalo. [the death of bomb victims is useless. I really resented it. I saw the half body of the soldier.]

So sabi ko kay Bong, "Bong, punta tayo." Sabi niya, "Delikado man ngayon." "Ah, kung panahon na natin, pati tayo kung doon -- doon tayo matatapos, eh ‘di doon." [So, I said to Bong, “Bong, let’s go there.” He said, “It’s dangerous now.” “Ah, if it’s our time, then we will have our end there.] That’s about the journey of life.

Pumunta ako. But totohanan ‘yan. [I went. But it’s the truth.] It might really have looked corny, "hilas" sa Bisaya. Corny ‘yan sa -- corny o hilas [“overacting” in the Visaya language. It’s corny -- corny or overacting] the same. But I did it purposely to honor. Ang sabi ko lang doon [I only said there] when I kissed the ground, "Hindi ka man lang nakapagdasal maski isang salita, [“You weren’t able to pray even one word,] not even to mention the name of God." Kaya hinalikan ko ‘yung lupa sa asar ko na... [That’s why I kissed the ground because I was upset that...]

I hope that their families and friends, and comrades will take [comfort] in the thought that they are now in a more peaceful place with our Creator. True. They are now in the heavens and you can rest assured that your comrades and the families that -- your loved ones…

I do not believe in hell. I do not think that God will create hell. Otherwise, what would be his business in creating a hell when in the first place God created us then God would create something when he knows the beginning and the end of a human being in his journey in this planet ay mapupunta ng impiyerno. [is going to hell.] That's a stupid proposition.

Everybody -- compassion. So God is forgiving. God is a forgiving God. Eh kaya nagpapako sa krus ‘yung kaibigan natin, [That’s why our friend was crucified on the cross,] to save us from sin. Then what would be the purpose of being nailed in that cross when, in spite of that, [we]  impiyerno pa pala tayo? [may still have a hell?]

On this note, allow me to convey the love and respect of a grateful nation. Again, I thank the dedicated men and women of our Armed Forces for their unwavering commitment and selfless service to the Filipino people and the entire nation. Again, in gratitude, I assure you that this administration will remain steadfast in doing our best to ensure to improve the welfare of the families of those who have gone ahead.

At lahat naman tayo pupunta doon, [And all of us are going there,] whether in the service or outside. Then, we will see each other there. Do not believe in hell. Iyan ang [That is] -- I have taken an issue with that with my religion. It does not make any sense at all.

Together, let us remain partners in protecting the life and liberty of all Filipinos and the sovereignty of our nation.

Maraming salamat po. [Many thanks.]

[President Duterte returns to the podium.]

Let me salute all of you. Yes, sir!

1Assets include a "C-130H cargo plane, six S70i Blackhawk utility helicopters, six A-29B Super Tucanos, six Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and 4 Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles." [Source:]

2 Iyan means "that's" in Tagalog but the word is better placed at the beginning of the phrase for standard  sense-making

3 Pinaka is a prefix that expresses the highest form of intensity in Tagalog. Duterte may have meant to convey the idea that his self-confessed snobbery towards America was due to feelings engendered from episodes ranging from the relatively recent to the comparatively distant (most) past. See, here and here for examples of these episodes.

4 Duterte may have meant to convey the idea that his feelings toward America are why he is not eager to sit down for a talk (with America).

Original Text and Audio Source:

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Transcript Note: Tagalog to English translation provided by South Transcription Unlimited, Inc. | | | (+63) 920.921.8709.

Page Created: 3/15/21

U.S. Copyright Status: Text, Audio, Images = Public domain per this notice on the Philippine Government website: "All content is in the public domain unless otherwise stated." Whether and to what extent any rights may be extended to the specifically crafted work above in the U.S. is unclear. Some modifications to the original have been made to better accord with the audio delivery and to provide additional context (e.g., via hyperlinks).
































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