MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday cited the importance of dissent as the essence of democracy.
"'Pag walang right to dissent, hindi ka maka-dissent (If there is no right to dissent, people cannot dissent), there is no democracy. That's the only one there. The right to dissent. Remove that and you do not have a democracy," Duterte said in his speech at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) campaign rally in Bacolod City.
Duterte called on government and state forces, especially the police, to never intimidate dissenters.
"Never intimidate (them) because the essence of democracy is the right to dissent," he said.
The President said he respects the people's freedom to choose whoever candidates they want in elections.
"Hindi ako 'yang magalit sa ano (I will not get mad). Free choice. 'Yan lang rin ang hingiin ko sa inyo, hayaan ninyo ang tao kung sinong gusto niya (That's the only thing I ask. Let the people decide which candidates they like)," he said.
Duterte said he never entered police stations months before elections during his stint as Davao City mayor.
"Months before (the elections), hindi na ako pumapasok ng kampo (I do not enter police camps). Just to be fair," he said.
Duterte earlier warned the 2019 mid-term polls candidates, both from the administration and opposition parties, not to terrorize voters.
The President has also repeatedly ordered the police and the military to remain neutral during the conduct of the polls. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency