Everyone has family trouble around the holidays, even strongman leaders suspected of crimes against humanity. Just ask Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
On Christmas Day, Duterte’s eldest son, Paolo, abruptly resigned from his post as vice mayor of Davao City following an expletive-laden social media fight with his 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Isabelle.
On Friday, Isabelle unloaded on her dad on her private Twitter account, saying he “fucks up my [Christmas] every year,” according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She hinted he’d physically beaten her, saying: “It’s not that if you have power, you can already hurt people…. The one you’re touching is also human!!!! Not only human but a child!!!!”
Davao City is a longtime power base for the Duterte family, and the current president himself served as mayor for years before ascending to the presidency. Paolo’s sister, Sara, took over as mayor after their dad moved to running the country from the capital, Manila.
Paolo didn’t suffer his daughter’s online criticism silently. He fired back on Facebook, in a post that has since been deleted: “FIX YOUR FUCKING LIFE FIRST before I will stop 'fucking up' your Christmas every year.”
Paolo accused his daughter of having let herself be “pimped twice” by someone he didn’t name, and criticized her attempts to enter show business.
“Change your family name if you want!,” he wrote. “You don't have respect! You just embarrassed yourself! Get an education so your brain isn't empty. You don't know how to listen anymore because you're famous??? Famous, for what, Belle? Famous for disparaging a father? Just wait for my death so you will be free from me! Pray for it, woman!”
He went on to say the whole Duterte family would likely be humiliated by their all-too-public back-and-forth, but that he thought social media was the only way to reach her.
“I know all of us will be embarrassed over this post. But this is what you want!” Paolo wrote. “Let's talk here because you are a millennial, as they say. You'll only listen here by your number of likes?!”
On Monday, a more restrained Paolo resigned from his post in the city, citing “recent unfortunate events in my life that are closely tied to my failed first marriage,” as well as “the very public squabble with my daughter.”
Paolo also mentioned the “maligning of my reputation” following allegations that he himself was involved in drug trafficking.
In September, Duterte vowed to kill his son if the drug claims proved true.