MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night called on members of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) to exert combined efforts to end piracy at sea.
“I call upon the BIMP-EAGA. We are doing commerce. Our navies must be vigilant. We have to be one in our patrols,” Duterte said during the 25th anniversary of the BIMP-EAGA in Davao City.
Duterte, who described pirates as having “no souls”, also ordered his military to finish them off.
“Let me be very clear to the heads of states. My orders to my navy is to blast them off the earth. If there are pirates in our territory or in the high seas, my orders are: Blast them to kingdom come,” he said.
Duterte described justice for victims of piracy as “a mirage actually floating in the seas” since pirates are easily freed.
“It’s just the same. They are arrested. They go to prison. You do not have witnesses because the victims, once they are freed, they would not even wait for a minute to issue a statement. They go home because they are scared. So justice seems to be an illusion. It’s a mirage actually floating in the seas,” he said.
The President also urged Indonesia and Malaysia in particular, to “band together” to address economic issues.
“So once again, Indonesia, Malaysia, we have to band together. The world is changing, including the economy. It could go either bad or very bad or it could go well, but we will have to go into a bad level and I hope we can survive it,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, he lauded the BIMP-EAGA for enabling effective mechanisms for socio-civic endeavors, political education campaigns, and the establishment of agro-economic zones across the nation.
“Indeed, these efforts highlight the importance of our collaborative efforts in realizing lasting peace and sustainable growth across Mindanao,” Duterte said.
“Together, let us pursue more progressive and inclusive strategies for growth in the region as we work towards the advancement of every Mindanawon,” he added.
Duterte said he is also counting on their “unwavering commitment” to contribute to efforts to improve people’s lives through peace and development.
He expressed hope that their cooperation would translate to opportunities in trade and investment, transportation, agri-business, tourism, energy, and environmental protection and management, among others.