HANOI, Vietnam – President Rodrigo Duterte issued one specific warning to the OFWs who attended the Filipino community meeting in Hanoi: do not touch my shoulders.
After tackling the heavier stuff in an extemporaneous talk that lasted an hour, Duterte turned to light banter but suddenly turned serious in making the warning.
“Huwag kayong maglagay ng kamay sa akin, yung maganon (Don’t put your hands on me, like this),” he said gesturing with his hands as he did so.
The president warned the OFWs in Vietnam not to do it because the Presidential Security Group (PSG) securing him will swat their hands.
If there are hands that even as much as move to touch him, Duterte said expect the PSG men near him to deflect it.
He issued the warning to prevent people from getting hurt because of tight security measures.
The highly-popular president’s charisma is well-known such that he is mobbed everywhere he goes.
His staff noted that during the Asean Forum in Laos, Duterte was the most sought after head of state from among all those who were in attendance.
The president’s security has become an object of concern to his supporters due to his tough stance against illegal drugs and criminality.
As early as the campaign, one of the primary considerations during his sorties was his security.
After he won, intelligence reports leaked that drug lords jailed at the National Bilibid Prison pooled their resources to offer a bounty for Duterte’s head.
With the war against drug lords and criminals going full throttle even before he assumed office, reports of more death threats surfaced.
Duterte stressed that there was nothing wrong with people touching his shoulders.
“I like it, really, I like it,” he insisted.
The president noted that he is the son of a poor man.
“I started from the bottom,” he narrated, and pointing to his security detail added, “had I been like them, I would just a sergeant.”
He recalled that in his career in the prosecution office, he started off as seventh assistant prosecutor.
“The people of Davao are used to embracing me,” he pointed out, saying he is sad that they cannot do that anymore.
As he is wont to do, Duterte dismissed the no-nonsense security measures implemented by the PSG adding that “anyway there are no killers here.”
An avowed ladies men, the president said he hopes his guards would loosen up to allow beautiful ladies to get near him.
The president joked that when he is asked what happened (in Hanoi), he can say he was able to hug all the beautiful women.