Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar expressed confidence anew in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's leadership in an interview with the CNBC show Asia Street Signs with Martin Soong and Oriel Morrison Thursday in Singapore.
Duterte's tough talk is meant "to instill fear in the hearts of criminals," Andanar said.
The Philippine president is in a state visit in Singapore from Dec. 15-16 following a warm reception from the Royalty of Cambodia on Dec. 13-14.
Duterte remains hugely popular in the Philippines and in the neighboring countries in the ASEAN region, to the frustration of his critics who continue to fault him for his speech style and his relentless campaign against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality.
Andanar also assured the public that the President is in tip-top condition, contradicting rumors that he is prone to dizzy spells and fatigue.
"In our country we say, he is as strong as a carabao (water buffalo)," Andanar added in humor, to reassure people that he will and he can finish his term, barring all threats and grim predictions to the contrary.
The Presidential Communications chief said that the former mayor kept the same "nocturnal schedule" even as he was now the President of the republic.
Asked about the government's foreign policy, Andanar reiterated the message of the President by saying that the Philippines "will maintain an independent foreign policy" in terms of economic decisions and "embracing countries that we used to ignore" referring to Russia and China, which have opened possibilities and opportunities in trade and industry and other areas of cooperation.
Andanar also said that in terms of the US relations, the new President-elect Donald Trump has wished President Duterte success in his war against drugs, signalling better relations between the US and the Philippines.
Source: Philippines News Agency