They call me The Punisher but at the end of the day I'm just plain old Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, and I don't have a bad word for anyone.

"Look at that son of a whore," I said as Barack Obama walked by at a cocktail party for world leaders who are attending Apec here in Lima, Peru.

"At the end of the day he's actually quite a good guy once you get to know him," said a guy next to me.


I asked him to repeat his comment. "It's just that English is my second language," I said.

"So's mine," he said.

We shook hands. He said, "You know what I like? I like your bananas."


"Your bananas. And your mangos, and your papayas. Did you know that fruit forms 36.5 per cent of imports that New Zealand receives from the Philippines? That's a lot of bananas, when you consider the total imports amount to $129 million."

I stared at him.

He continued, "But it goes both ways, of course. The Philippines is New Zealand's 17th largest export market. With a population of more than100 million, it mainly looks to New Zealand for our high quality food and beverage products, especially dairy. Dairy forms 75 per cent of the total export figure of $861m. Do you like milk?"

I nodded.

"We do the best milk in the world," he said.

I said, "What are your feelings on my promise to kill more than 100,00 drug users and fill Manila Bay with their bodies?"

He said, "It might become a tourist attraction."

I said, "I told them, 'I'll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there'. You good with that?"

He said, "If your fish are anything like your bananas, we might look at importing some of them."

I nodded.

"Listen," he said, "why don't you pop into Auckland after Apec? it's sort of half-way between Lima and Manila, isn't it? Stay a night or two, kick back. Come over to my place if you like. I've got a pool."

We shook hands.

"It's important," he said, "that our two great countries maintain our free trade agreement."


Auckland is very beautiful, as are the women.

"Room service," said a housemaid.

I said, "Are you married?"

"I'm from the Herald," said a reporter.

I said, "Are you married?"

"John's not here right now," said his wife.

I said, "Would you like a banana?"


Home, sweet home, although the motorcade from the airport was a bumpy ride.

I asked the driver what was going on, and he said that the streets were filled with the bodies of drug users.

"But I gave clear instructions for security forces to dump them in Manila Bay," I said.

The driver said, "You didn't pass on that message to vigilantes, though, and they're doing most of the killing."

You just can't get good help.


The noise of gunshots and screams all night meant I could barely sleep a wink.

I really wish I'd stayed longer in New Zealand! It was so quiet there.

I decided to book a long weekend.


It was good to see him again. We took an Uber cab from the airport to his house, and he fired up the gas barbecue by the pool.

I said, "Just checking - what are your feelings about my decision to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Heroes Cemetery, despite his well-documented record of human rights abuses, including torture, abduction, and murder?"

He said, "You weren't kidding about your fish! Look at the size of them. How would you like it cooked?"