Duterte returns from Japan, gives 'curse-less' media briefing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An unexpected announcement from President Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival from Japan late Thursday night – no more cussing in public.

The President narrated how he heard a still voice during the return flight from a three-day official visit in Tokyo, while everyone was asleep. It was God, Duterte said, telling him that the plane would crash if he wouldn't stop swearing. So the firebrand leader came to a decision.

"I promised God not to express slang, cuss words," he told the audience at the Davao International Airport lounge before taking questions from the media.

The President said he intended to keep that promise because "a promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people."

Related: Duterte: I only want to see Filipino troops on PH soil

And indeed, there was no profanity during the more than an hour-long press briefing. But as to whether he would drop cursing altogether, Duterte was noncommittal.

"There's always a time for everything, a time to be foul-mouthed. It's all calibrated... (But) I don't want anybody reading my mind dahil hindi na ako maka-diskarte [I don't want to telegraph my punches]," he said in a response to a question from the media.

Gains from Tokyo

Duterte said his meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese officials were productive in the areas of security, defense and cooperation. They discussed in full detail the state of bilateral ties.

"By all accounts, and by any measure, (our) ties are excellent. We agreed to take (these) to a higher level," he said

Describing the partnership with Japan as "exemplary," Duterte said both sides committed to ensure freedom of navigation and over-flight in contested waters.

He said Japan would play a vital role in modernizing Philippine maritime and air capabilities.

"Japan is and will always be a true friend of the Philippines," Duterte said.

'Harsh' on corruption

Reiterating a message to Filipinos in Tokyo, Duterte said corruption in government must stop.

"I would like to announce that I will be harsh in dealing with people in government and private sector who are dealing with government in a corrupt way,” he said.

Related: Duterte to Filipinos in Japan: One day you will not have to work overseas

The President said all his diplomatic efforts would go to waste unless corruption is wiped out.

Duterte singled out corruption in the bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue — then enjoined government officials to use public funds wisely, such as when taking overseas trips.

"No special privileges... You ride the economy class. Ayoko makita mga taga- gobyerno [I don't want to see government people], see you in casinos," he said.

He even said there would be close monitoring to stop corruption in government.

"I want a chart. I'm warning you, do not humiliate me just like what the Americans did.," he said.

'Filipinos to cry' over drug list

The President also showed a thick volume of drug suspects in government.

"Hindi ko kaya (holding up the pages). Ang taga-human rights mag-commit ng suicide kung tapusin ko to lahat."

[Translation: I cannot deal with this alone. Human rights people would kill themselves if I finish off all those on this list.]

Duterte said he didn't want to make the document public "because it will just make Filipinos cry." The list contains practically everyone from barangay captains, councilors, policemen to elected officials.

"I am even dumbfounded. Eto ang nangyari sa Pilipinas napabayaan eh [This is what happened to the Philippines, the problem was left on the backburner]."

Related: Drug war shifts to phase two as public health issue

Duterte then took a swipe at the United States yet again, saying that instead of sending him to prison or treating him like a dog on a leash who won't be fed if he didn't behave, the Americans should have helped in solving the problem.

"Anak ka ng [You son of a]... Whatever happened to your humanity?" he said almost letting out a curse. "Ang tingin nila sa atin patay-gutom [They treat us like starving beggars]."

On Kylie Verzosa's win

On a lighter note, the President said he'd like to extend his congratulations to newly crowned Miss International, Kylie Versoza.

Related: Miss Philippines Kylie Verzosa crowned Miss International 2016

Versoza won shortly after Duterte left Tokyo. The pageant was also held in the Japanese capital.

"I am always happy if our beautiful women win titles. It gives us hambog: kita mo ang gaganda ng Pilipina. Pero lahat kayo dyan sa human rights commission mga panget!" the President said, which drew laughter from the audience.

[Translation: It gives us a sense of pride: See how beautiful our women are. But all of you there at the human rights commission are ugly.]