MANILA – Newly sworn in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared he is ready to start his six-year mandate for the nation which he promised to free from criminality, illegal drugs and graft and corruption.
“Why I am here. The past tense was, I am here because I love my country and l love the people of the Philippines. I’m here, why? Because I am ready to start my work for the nation,” Pres. Duterte said in his inaugural speech at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañang Palace on Thursday.
He started his speech appealing for support and cooperation of the Filipino people, at least 16 million of them voted for him in the last May 9 polls.
“No leader, however strong, can succeed at anything of national importance or significance unless he has the support and cooperation of the people he is tasked to lead and sworn to serve,” the new leader of the country said.
“It is the people from whom democratic governments draw strength and this administration is no exception. That is why we have to listen to the murmurings of the people, feel their pulse, supply their needs and fortify their faith and trust in us whom they elected to public office,” he added.
“Far from that. These were battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change. But the change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us,” the President further said.
Duterte said there is a need to address with urgency the corruption “both in the high and low echelons of government, criminality in the streets and the rampant illegal drugs.”
“For I see these ills as mere symptoms of a virulent social disease that creeps and cuts into the moral fiber of Philippine society. I sense a problem deeper and more serious than any of those mentioned or all of them put together. But of course, it is not to say that we will ignore them because they have to be stopped by all means that the law allows,” the President said.
For those who disapproved his methods in fighting criminality, corruption and illegal drugs, Duterte dared them to look at individuals and family relationships ruined by illegal drugs and criminality.
“Look at this from that perspective and tell me that I am wrong,” the President said.
He also asked Congress and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to allow him to perform his mandate “at a level of governance that is consistent to my mandate.”
“The fight will be relentless and will be sustained. As a lawyer and former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the President. I know what is legal and what is not,” Duterte said.
Recently, some members of Congress have expressed opposition to the re-imposition of death penalty while the CHR has been questioning the vigilante-style of eliminating criminals and drug pushers in Davao City where Duterte served as mayor prior to a landslide win to the presidency.
“My adherence to due process and rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine,” he told lawmakers and CHR officials.
In fighting corruption, Pres. Duterte directed all department secretaries and the heads of agencies to reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications from the submission to the release of the government transactions.
He also ordered all department secretaries and heads of agencies to refrain from changing and bending the rules government contracts, transactions and projects already approved and awaiting implementation.
“Changing the rules when the game is on-going is wrong. I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions from submission of proposals to negotiation to perfection and finally, to consummation,” he said.
“Do them and we will work together. Do not do them, we will part sooner than later,” he warned.
He also stressed the need to restore the faith and trust of the people in the government.
“I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servant to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier,” Duterte said.
“Love of country, subordination of personal interests to the common good, concern and care for the helpless and the impoverished – these are among the lost and faded values that we seek to recover and revitalize as we commence our journey towards a better Philippines. The ride will be rough. But come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder, let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest,” he added.