Steven Seagal, Duterte talk drugs
President Duterte met US actor Steven Seagal, who was in the country for preproduction work on a new television series about illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Thursday.
A Malacañang statement said Mr. Duterte reiterated his stand against illegal drugs and discussed how the drug trade affected Latin American countries during the brief meeting.
Drug trade and production devastated many societies in Latin America, particularly Mexico, and the President said he did not want the Philippines to suffer the same fate.
He also told the American actor that he used to have karate lessons.
Telling Seagal that movies are a reflection of life, the President reiterated his strong stance against illegal drugs because it enslaved people to a form of synthetic chemical.
The war on drugs is the centerpiece program of the administration, which has courted local and international controversy because of the killings of thousands of suspects.
The tough-talking Mr. Duterte had already lashed out at the United Nations, the European Union and the United States for their criticism of his war on drugs.
Fan of Duterte
The Palace did not say what Seagal said in his meeting with Mr. Duterte, but in an earlier briefing with entertainment writers, he said he was a fan of the President who “has been instrumental in making the Philippines a safer place.”
“I don’t feel like this is a dangerous place ... I think it’s a place that’s up and coming with the new leadership,” he said.
Seagal said he would likely be spending several months in the country.
“You’ll be sick of me,” said the actor, a seventh-dan aikido artist who has also shown interest in Filipino martial arts, like kali and eskrima.
He said he had been a “blood brother for more than 40 years” of Filipino-American eskrima master Dan Inosanto.
New TV series
Seagal explained that the new television series he was making, to be called “General Commander,” would most likely take at least nine months.
He said he had visited the Philippines close to a hundred times although they were unannounced trips, mostly in the company of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, who is now a councilor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.
Seagal said he kept coming back to the country because of “the people … Filipinos are gentle, kind, musical, fun, humble and have great sense of humor.”
He added that he had spent most of his time in Manila, “but I have gone to Vigan, Boracay and all the small islands with Chavit.”
For this trip, Seagal said he and producer Saradan Media would be casting for two Filipino actors for roles in “General Commander.”
Before the meeting with Seagal, Mr. Duterte also met with artist Freddie Luna Cruz.
Cruz is the great grandson of national artist Juan Luna. He presented a portrait of the President, which he completed last year when the Chief Executive assumed office.
Cruz was accompanied by Presidential Consultant for Education Jose David Lapuz.
President Duterte does his signature pose with US actor Steven Seagal after their meeting in Malacañang.