Duterte admits 'utang na loob' to Gov. Imee Marcos, 3 others

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Gov. Imee Marcos and President Rodrigo Duterte (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte believes he has a better chance to win the war on drugs because he owes no favors to so-called "narcopoliticians."

In the one-on-one interview of CNN Philippines senior anchor Pinky Webb on Thursday, President Duterte said that in previous administrations, police were afraid of going after drug suspects because they had connections with local politicians who were involved in the illegal drug trade.

Without naming any former President, Duterte said past presidents of the country would at times extend favors to these narcopoliticians, who would complain whenever police operations interrupted their drug activities.

Dutere said it was not unusual for politician-drug lords to call up the President, to ask that a drug suspect be let off the hook.

Duterte told Webb, he is in a better position to fight the drug trade and go against powerful politicians — simply because he owes no favors to them.

"Ang saving grace ko is wala akong utang na loob kahit kanino except for about three or four persons," he said.

[Translation: My saving grace is I don't have debt of gratitude to anyone except for about three or four persons.]

When asked to elaborate, the President was quick to name Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos as one of the people to whom he has a debt of gratitude.

"Imee. Because I promised to bury Marcos during the campaign period," he said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos, the father of Imee, was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November, drawing outrage from protesters. The elder Marcos, who died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989, was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986, amid allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

Duterte, however, did not divulge what favor he received from the Ilocos Norte Governor. The President earlier said the governor was one of his campaign donors, but she was not included in his statement of contributions and expenditures.

Aside from Marcos, Duterte said he has "utang na loob" to Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri Jr., Bataan Gov. Abet Garcia, and another governor.