President Rodrigo Duterte again lashed out at critics, saying he doesn't believe claims that his tough talk is scaring off investors, even as he said he's ready to deal with China and Russia instead.
"Do not keep complaining about my mouth because my mouth is not the problem. It cannot bring down a country," said Duterte in a speech in Cagayan De Oro on Thursday.
"Ang issue dito hindi ang bunganga ko. And they are saying the ratings sa business, sa economy. Eh 'di so be it. Lumayas kayo. Then we can start on our own. I can go to China. I can go to Russia. I had a talk with them. They are waiting for me. So what the hell."
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) Global Ratings earlier said an upgrade for the Philippines was unlikely because of investor concern over the political climate.
"(I)nternational investors may be getting worried about potential diplomatic complications and short-term law and order issues on the ground," S&P said in the September 2016 issue of Asia-Pacific Economic Snapshots.
Duterte has drawn international headlines because of his profanity-laced tirades that have been directed at critics from the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States.
In another speech earlier in the day, Duterte said he didn't care about credit ratings.
"Sabihin nitong mga... na BB plus credit, wala akong pakialam sa inyo," he said in Misamis Oriental.
Fastest growing economy
In an earlier press conference, Palace officials were much more diplomatic.
"We welcome S&P’s decisions as it gives government greater resolve to make our economy growth robust, sustainable and inclusive. The fundamentals of the economy are solid and strong," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
"We are the fastest growing economy in the second quarter of 2016 and we shall seize this economic momentum to bring about inclusive developments to our people. Any hiccups to slow down growth will depend on the overall performance of the global economy."
Andanar also defended the administration's drug war, which has drawn much international criticism due to its rising death toll.
"The President’s commitment in the anti-illegal drug campaign and criminality will enhance the country’s image to attract more foreign investment," he said.
"Peace and order is a must, for investors to invest more in the country and we thank the Filipino for having a better appreciation of the positive changes now happening under this administration. As we all know, consumer optimism soared at the start of this presidency."
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez added that despite the concerns over killings, the government is not changing macroeconomic policies.
"Kasi ho si President Duterte tingin po naming even sa business sector, siya po talaga determined lang to help the Filipino people, to ensure peace, security, drug-free, illegal drug-free. Iyon din po ang pangako sa ASEAN nagkasundo doon at siya po talagang he is just after our welfare," he said.
In his Cagayan De Oro speech, Duterte also defended his tough talk, hitting out at human rights advocates for criticizing him for his rhetoric threatening to kill criminals.
"There is no law at all [that stops anyone from threatening criminals]. Mind you, Human Rights Commission, tarantando pala kayo, there has to be a law." he said.
Earlier this month, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticized Duterte for "empowering police forces to shoot to kill any individual whom they claim to suspect of drug crimes, with or without evidence."
UN Special Rapporteurs had also expressed concern over his speeches. —JST, GMA News