MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated that he will pursue his promise to have a better Philippines and protect the future generation.
Duterte during his meeting with members of the Filipino community in Jakarta Friday said, “I will do what I think is best for my country, to the best interest of the Philippines… I am the President of the Republic of the Philippines, not the republic of the international community.”
He said that the threat posed by illegal drugs is one that will affect the future of the country’s population, hence the need to urgently attend to it.
“I will continue the campaign against the criminals,” he said.
The President said that with the help of the Almighty, he believes that what his administration has started is attainable.
“I will suppress drugs and in the fullness of God’s time, maybe two years, you can walk about in the Philippines, free of the fear of being mugged. But you have to pray, not because you love me, you have to pray because you need (me).”
In Laos where he spoke before members of the Filipino community, some of whom came all the way from Thailand, the President assured that they will return to a better Philippines.
In both countries, the President mentioned of the many cases where children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are giving their sweat and blood to provide for their families back home, end up with a segmented family. Worse, he said, some have children hooked on drugs. Even sadder, some of them go home with their daughter raped by a drug addict or killed on the street by a crazy drug user, he said.
Acknowledging the difficulty of his mission, President Duterte said he is nonetheless determined to do it and will not spare anybody.
“Nobody in the horizon of the political arena was talking about the seriousness of the drug problem. Nobody was talking about the number of crimes committed against the innocent and hapless civilians, everywhere. Nobody was talking about graft and corruption,” he said.
He said the extent of the drug problem was not made known in the past but shocked many when he started the campaign against it.
“It was the naked truth that was really very, very terrifying. Two years before, sabi ng (according to) Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency: There were about three million already infected with drugs,” he said, adding that about 600,000 have voluntarily surrendered and admitted their involvement to be able to avail of the government’s rehabilitative programs.
In a conversation between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and President Duterte, he related to the Filipino community, “‘Mr. President, what’s the dimension of your problem?’ ‘Me in Indonesia, I have four million drug addicts.’ Eh sabi ko, ‘Nauna ka lang pala nang ilang thousand (I said you are just ahead by a few thousands).’”
Duterte said the extent of the problem is something which cannot be set aside. Being the leader of the nation, he said he is firm with his stand that the programs of the government to make the country better and to make the people safe is something that nations cannot meddle in.
“I do not answer to anybody except to the Filipino people. I’m only responsible to you,” he said.
The drug problem, he said, is not confined to the Philippines but is wrecking other nations as well. Indonesia has a death penalty, with President Widodo standing his ground, he noted.
“And I salute him. Cambodia… Cambodia is a satellite of… China. Laos is, kanila ‘yan (theirs), satellite. China nandiyan lang ‘yan sila sa periphery. (China is just at the periphery.) And even Thailand. Death penalty lahat ‘yan. (They all have the death penalty),” he said.
The President said he was probably placed in office for a purpose. “I don’t know if God has a purpose for me,” he said.
President Duterte vowed that up to his last day in office, he will do everything he can to assure that the country will be a good place to live in, especially for today’s youth who are the future’s hope.