“Tinud-anay nga kabag-uhan. Mao kana ang tumong sa atong pang-gobyerno.” (Real change. This is the direction of our government).
This commitment from President Rodrigo Duterte during his inaugural address yesterday resonated well with Bisayan-speaking Filipinos, as the rest of his speech drew the approval of various sectors in Cebu.
The President said that the slogans that catapulted him to the presidency – “Malasakit. Tunay na Pagbabago. Tinud-anay nga Kausaban (Compassion. Real change)” – were not mere slogans but “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,” he said. Cebu’s elected officials, police and military authorities and business leaders all said that President Duterte’s speech bodes well for a country that has pinned so much hope on promised changes under his presidency.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who like Duterte has adopted a tough anti-crime policy, did not only agree wholeheartedly with the President’s zero tolerance for crime and corruption but also declared he would implement a more streamlined operation in City Hall and cut down bureaucratic red tape, particularly in the securing of business permits.
Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines authorities in Cebu also vowed to support President Duterte “100 percent,” even as Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr., director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), admitted that policemen were starting to feel the pressure, especially as the new President’s main concern is to fight criminality.
But he said it would not be difficult to carry out Duterte’s vision in Central Visayas because police officers in the region have already started going after criminals even before Duterte assumed the presidency.
“We’re already doing what we’re supposed to do,” he said. In just a month, policemen in the region killed two of the top drug lords in Central Visayas—Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria and Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz.
Lt. General Nicanor Vivar, commander of the Cebu-based Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Centcom), vowed to help the PNP in the fight against illegal drugs. “His (Duterte) presidency is a big welcome to us. He has our 100-percent support. The AFP is behind its commander in chief,” saidVivar.
Strong, meaningful message
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng described Duterte’s 15-minute, expletive-free speech as “brief, meaningful and straight to the point.”
She said she particularly liked that the President stressed that “change must start within us and from us and that we must have the courage to change ourselves.”
Ng also commended the President for directing his Cabinet secretaries to immediately reduce red tape, processes and remove redundancy, as this would greatly aid the ease of doing business and promote economic growth.
“The call to change, the call for a better tomorrow by getting to work and getting things done is a very strong message,” she added.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) past president Philip Tan said he felt the sincerity in Duterte’s speech.
“We could feel the sincerity of our new President,” he said. He added President Duterte’s vision would only be possible with the people’s utmost cooperation.
Waging war against corruption, criminality and drugs — Duterte’s battle cry, are what make up the foundation of how the country can move forward, said Tan.
Osmeña, in a press conference he called after he assumed office, attested to Duterte’s decisiveness and capability to fight crime and corruption, having known each other for over 20 years.
Duterte, he said, “is one of the best mayors of all time.”
He recalled that in 1992, when the Local Government Code (LGC) was introduced, most mayors complained because it was like the Bible written in Latin and just as hard to understand. Only two cities handled and easily adjusted to the LGC – Naga City under the late Jesse Robredo (the husband of now Vice President Leni Robredo) and Davao City under Duterte, he said.
“So even as early as 1992 they (Naga and Davao cities) were considered best-managed cities in the Philippines even better than the cities of Manila, Makati and Quezon,” he said.
Like Duterte, Osmeña said he would also work to gain the people’s trust in government and the police.
He said he directed the city policemen to respond to all emergencies. “They have to go, no excuses. I am making it a policy to show that you can trust us. They have to go. If not, I’ll beat them out of their positions,” he said.
The reduction of government red tape would also be part of his administration’s agenda, such as reducing the number of steps in securing business permits.
As President Duterte was inducted into office, some ecumenical groups staged a prayer-rally at Fuente Osmeña Park, expressing hope he would lead the country to progress.
Rev. Rey Gelloagan of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said they prayed Duterte would be the answer to the problems of the country.
“This is the dawn of hope. We’ve been holding rallies on the streets and yet there are no answers to our concerns. We hope that the new president will attend to the problems of the laborers, the students and other sectors and implement programs for the common good,” he said.
He added: “I hope corruption will be washed away. May the laborers receive an increase in salaries. May public funds be spent for their respective purposes.”
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Central Visayas coordinator Jaime Paglinawan said they hoped Duterte would observe the rule of law and implement his programs without shortcuts.
“We definitely oppose extrajudicial killings,” he said. About 200 people, including jeepney drivers, students and members of different Christian denominations, attended the prayer rally.