MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday the Philippines should look for another authoritarian leader, like the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to eradicate corruption.
"Sa batas na ito, even if you give me 20 years I cannot do it. Maghanap uli kayo ng Marcos. Or someday, somehow, somewhere that fellow will be elected in the generations to come," he said in a speech during the 121st anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Cavite.
Duterte, who vowed to get rid of corruption when he ran for the highest office, said he may not be able to fulfill his promise with only 3 years left in his term.
"Sabihin ko, nagsisi ako kasi akala ko within the constitutional powers na ibinigay sa akin, kaya ko. But truth to tell, kung araw-araw na lang pati every table dito sa Pilipinas ganoon, hindi ko talaga mahabol," he said.
Facing red tape and pervasive corruption, the President is not as bullish about the country's prospects.
"Kung sabihin mo mag-improve tayo beyond the level that we find ourselves economically, politically, well I’m sorry, I’m telling you, hindi dadating ‘yan," he said.
"Not even half what Hong Kong will be in 30 years. Sobra kasi ang… I don’t know but the constitution that… I’m not trying to criticize. It is as good as any. Mas mabuti pa kung wala talaga—‘yung kay Cory," he added.
Duterte has made no secret of his admiration for Marcos, a known friend of his family. His father Vicente served under Marcos' pre-martial law cabinet.
He also endorsed the candidacy of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, who won a seat in the Senate in the midterm polls.
The Marcos regime, considered as the darkest chapter in Philippine history, saw thousands of people imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
The Philippine Commission on Good Government also recovered a total of P170 billion from the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth, which “is estimated between $5 billion to $10 billion, the bulk of it being deposited and hidden abroad."
Meanwhile, the Philippines improved its ranking in a global corruption index in 2018, but is still far from the average score in the Asia-Pacific region. The country placed 99th out of 180 countries with a score of 36 out of 100.