Duterte: 'I am a peaceful man now after the ASEAN'

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President Rody Duterte is back in the country after his first official trip abroad. (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In stark contrast to his fiery speech before leaving for the ASEAN summit, President Rodrigo Duterte returns home saying, "I am a peaceful man now after the ASEAN."

"I don't want to pick a fight with any nation. I only want to be at peace with everybody. Doing business with everybody," he said.

Duterte arrived at the Davao International Airport shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday — capping a five-day trip which saw him meet with other world leaders during the 28th and 29th ASEAN summit, followed by a working visit in Indonesia.

After a short recap of his activities in Vientiane, Duterte said he was quite comfortable with the situation now "after talking to everybody."

Aside from regional stability and security, the fight against terrorism and illegal drugs, the President said he was able to convey the message that the Philippines "is open for business" — including micro, small and small medium enterprises.

To OFWs in Indonesia, Duterte said his administration would work very hard to make sure jobs would be available at home so that working abroad would just become an option for the Filipinos.

No bad blood with media

When asked if he was mad at the media for causing an international stir regarding his remarks about U.S. President Barack Obama, Duterte gave a quite unexpected answer.

"I am not a liberty to be angry at anybody, it is your sworn duty to ask questions. Wala akong galit sa inyo [I hold no grudge against you].

"Si Ed Lingao... he apologized and I accept his apology. Sometimes you commit error... People commit mistake, some with malice, some without malice. If it's just a mere shortfall of talent, but I accept the apology."

Related: Duterte tells regional leaders, U.S. not to lecture PH on rights

Duterte said that the media's role was important in recording the history of the country.

"Do not hesitate to attack or criticize me if I do wrong in my job. It is your duty," he said, adding that in cases of errors or misinterpretation, "I would like to presume that you did it without malice."

Davao blast, Sara's triplets, and Mary Jane

On the recent explosion in his hometown, Duterte turned a bit emotional when asked about his daughter, Mayor Sara, who lost two of the triplets she was carrying in her womb three days after the night market blast.

Related: Sara Duterte loses two of unborn triplets

The President said he was talking to some people at the summit venue lobby when he got the call about the miscarriage. After receiving the bad news, he said he had to excuse himself from the group.

"I went to the bathroom, I cried," he recounted. "These are things in life that cannot be assuaged... You just have to heal yourself."

Regarding the investigation, he said authorities were pursuing leads but it's too early to talk about it.

"I guarantee you there will be a day of reckoning, bantayan mo [keep an eye on me]" he said, but also warned there would be more similar attacks because of retaliation.

Being the chairman of the next ASEAN summit, Duterte also said that holding the event in Davao City was an option but it would depend on the security situation given that the country had been put under a state of emergency on account of  lawlessness.

About his talk with Indonesian President Joko Widodo concerning Mary Jane Veloso's situation on death row, Duterte said he could not divulge details without talking to the Veloso family first.

"Good or bad (news), we have to consider feelings of the family," he said.

'I served my country the best way I can'

Turning to a lighter mood, Duterte said he did his very best to look presentable in front of other world leaders. He said he even bought a suspender so that his pants he bought there — which turned out to be big for his size — wouldn't fall off.

"Hindi kayo napahiya [I did not embarrass you there], everybody was clapping except for dalawa [two persons])," the President said, although he was unable to identify those who didn't clap for him.

Related: PH won’t part with the United Nations


To United Nations Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon, Duterte said he was able to convey a most important message: "We will pursue an independent foreign policy, we will observe, I must insist on the time-honored principle of sovereignty and non-interference."

Duterte added that his Constitution-derived powers would only be used for the best interest of the Filipino people.

"I am happy to able to do it (ASEAN summit). I can sleep soundly tonight thinking I have served my country the best way I can," Duterte said, paraphrasing a line from his favorite lawyer and politician — American President Abraham Lincoln:

"I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."