‘Do you know the cost of war?’ — Duterte

By , on March 4, 2015


NOTORIOUS TOUGH GUY. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Photo courtesy of Duterte's official Facebook page.
NOTORIOUS TOUGH GUY. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Photo courtesy of Duterte’s official Facebook page.

MANILA — Following the “all-out-offensive” launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against Moro rebels, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asks:

”Do you know the cost of war?”

Duterte posted the question during his speech at the founding anniversary of the Lyceum of  the Philippines University of Manila.

He added that he grew up in the area and he understands the people of Mindanao.

“I grew up there, I understand them (people of Mindanao). For a military man to say that, do you know the cost of war?”

The question was made following the launching of an all out defense against the Moro rebels.

On earlier reports, the AFP has ordered an intensified operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro rebels in the southern Philippines.

Because clash between the government and the rebels continues, thousands of civilians are fleeing from their villages.

  • Atin To Pres

    The Philippines Graphic exclusive interview with Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: Do you believe in incorporating the idea of a federal state in the Bangsamoro Basic Law?

    DUTERTE: I’ve read the Bangsamoro Basic Law. I’m a lawyer and as a lawyer I have my misgivings about the BBL. Even at this stage, many have been pointing to legal infirmities. But I still hope that for the sake of peace in Mindanao, they could pull it off. As we all know, Misuari has been agitating for a separate republic. I told him that could lead to chaos. And when I asked him for the best option, he said federalism. If nothing else, and if the BBL succeeds, that could be the template. But we have to be very definite about the boundaries because we have to go federal. There has to be a sense of security within our boundaries. With federalism, we retain most of our earnings and whatever is of value to us here. We can send part of our earnings to the central Federal government as our contribution for the upkeep. In this present setup, our contribution is sent as unitary type and all the extras are at the mercy of this administration. I’m not referring to just Aquino but all other administrations in the history of this country.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: Is this part of the reason why you were quoted as saying that you want to abolish Congress if you ever become President?

    DUTERTE: I am not interested in being the President. I do not like to be President. Besides, I do not have the money. There should always be a prefix here. A prefix that’s something like, if I were Roxas, Binay, Escudero and Poe, then I would use the “I” because it’s more convenient to express it. So, if “I” become the President, I’ll give everybody a chance and tell them let us, at least for once in our generation, vote for candidates that could make a difference. For own good, this time. Okay, maybe this time, we work on it. Let us give ourselves about one year. Then, we try to reform. Everybody—the Judiciary, Congress, the Military. Let us do it for ourselves. Give it six months to a year. How am I going to do it? How can I fast-track reforms?

    You see, if you leave it to the existing structures, even to natural evolution, nothing’s going to work. Ignorance is still a real problem among Filipinos. Hopefully, by the grace of God, we can educate many of them. But what’s happening is the opposite. The country has breached the one hundred million mark in population. I am not blaming the Church, but they should understand the problem. Many people bear children because they have nothing better to do. The gap between the rich and the poor—this will catch up with us, the earliest being 2050.

    So, if you elect me as President, I will have a problem. Now, this I can guarantee you with my life: If I become the President, I would not sit there for a full term, after six uneventful years and say, “I tried my best, but you know, my best was not good enough. There’s this Congress, there’s the investigation, there’s…”You can forget it. If that would be the case, then I suggest you look for somebody else.

    I’ve been elected mayor seven times or eight times already, so what am I after in this life? I cannot be President and squander the remaining years of my life doing nothing. You know, a little reform here, a little change there. That’s absurd. I cannot accept that.

    If after one year, no reform has taken place or if I cannot penetrate the political structures including what is right and what is wrong, I will declare a revolutionary government. My template? Cory’s revolutionary government. She was elected President and she declared a revolutionary government. Since she received the mandate, it wasn’t hard to accept it. It will be the same under my watch.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: It has been said that the trickle-down effect of the economy is a false concept, that it is not true. If that is the case, then there’s no reason for an economy that is good only on paper to help improve the lives of people. What are your thoughts on the matter?

    DUTERTE: That is correct. The secret is to close the gap. How do you do that? You have to give full support to the micro-economy, the small- and medium-scale entrepreneur. Since we’re on the subject of China, let’s have China as an example. China’s economy started out small. After small profits, you drum up the sales and continue until you reach some success. I agree with Manny Villar’s principle of making the money available to small enterprises. The same is true with land reform. They asked me once if as President I will continue land reform. I said, I will. There are lands that are really productive that are owned and managed by big multinationals. But the problem is, as I have said before, we are left with very few lands. To land beneficiaries, they must get the needed support—tractors or carabaos or seedlings. I say maintain their farm gates by buying their products. Do not import.

    As it is, land beneficiaries do not get fertilizers and seedlings. No support at all. As President, I will subsidize the farmers and make them my priority all because our country is mainly agricultural. Land and human resource productivity is where we must focus our resources. Let’s put rural communities first. After which we go urban.

    That’s also your blueprint for land reform?

    DUTERTE: Yes. Tignan mo ang land reform.Papaano ang land reform? Wala namang… walang fertilizer, walang seedlings. You have to… I-subsidize ko because our country actually is agricultural-based. So yan, diyan mo ibuhos ang productivity ng tao.Doon unahin mo yung mga rural. Then you go up sa urban. The present setup cannot go on. Also a salary of P25,000 should not be taxed. This will help the individual a lot. Government will still have the needed funds. As I have said earlier, we will not involve ourselves in major projects, just the rehabilitation of existing ones. The next President after me can do it, if he chooses. The rural communities must come first: that’s my blueprint.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC:But how will you ensure continuity of existing projects?

    DUTERTE: You have to see to it that money is available for existing ones. Take for example mass transport. It has to be subsidized. Let’s not fool ourselves. If you’re going to let the people shoulder the cost of rehabilitation of the mass transport system, they will not afford it. One reason: the prices of oil. Something has to give here. If I will ever get into new projects, it’s going to be mass transport.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC:What about social justice: Courts, judges…

    DUTERTE: You know, Marcos, for the first seven years of his time was really very good. I will just copy the template of Marcos. I will follow what is right.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: A lot of people in Manila, and in other places, had been subjected to the abuses and cruelty of the Marcos regime. Won’t that scare people?

    DUTERTE: That will not happen if I’m the president.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: How can you assure that?

    DUTERTE: I’ll shoot you, if you’re a criminal. This is how it works. The backbone of any society is peace. A leader can only accomplish things if on one level, he thinks and acts like a dictator. If you don’t trust me, then don’t vote for me. I have no ambitions.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: And what of the military and the police?

    DUTERTE: I will limit the number of years of service of generals. I want the leadership of the military and police to belong to the best and the brightest Filipinos. As it is, being a general is like a merchandize. They ask for the position, they get a desk. It’s crazy. And not all who graduate become generals. Give the position to the best and the brightest. It is only then that it will have integrity. Most of our military officers get a salary that is not in keeping with dignity. Your term as general is six years, then go for three. I will pay you. You’re a general? Then you’ll get paid P500,000. Remember, if I become President, I will close Congress. As such I have the money. I will even give you extra, just to make you happy. But make no mistake. If you make a fool out of me, I will summon you and I will hurl you into the Pasig River. Now why will I do something like this? Look at our policemen. Their salary is about P18,000. Enrollment of children comes and they immediately borrow money. At the end of the day, his take home pay amounts to a thousand, two thousand pesos. Not enough.

    PHILIPPINES GRAPHIC: I’m sure you also mean to help teachers.

    DUTERTE: In one of the elementary schools here, there are teachers, two or three, who owe money—five-six. This is the group I am telling you about, the group who needs support: Teachers, police, soldiers, officials.

    Look at what happened to the Special Action Force (SAF). How can a SAF officer have the talent for fighting when, while advancing into the enemy’s lair, they are thinking of death at the back of their minds, and what they will leave for their families if they do die? What would come of my wife and children? How can one even concentrate?

    This is the group I am referring to. Patrolman, I will give you P100,000 plus P20,000 extra for your extra-curricular activities. Spend the money for your mistress for all I care. Your children’s education will be free from kindergarten to high school. I’ll give you an example. If fighting breaks out anywhere—Samar, Mindoro, Cotabato, Davao del Norte—who do we send to stop the chaos? The police and military. They get the same pension and salary for about seven years even after they die. If that will be the case, then I’m not surprised if some will just commit suicide. They don’t only have to be protected—military gear, etc.—you also have to put some sense in their work, in the job of protecting the country.
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