DUTERTE DECLARES RELENTLESS WAR
Once again, it was a tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte who faced the nation, declaring “unrelenting war” and an uncompromising stance against illegal drugs, Islamic extremism and now against the communist-led rebellion, destructive mining operations, graft and corruption and against poverty.
As he spoke of his government’s decision to chart an independent foreign policy, he spoke kindly of the new-found cooperation with China but reminded the nation about a time in history when American soldiers turned the town of Balangiga in Samar into a “howling wilderness” by killing hundreds of Filipino men and boys and claiming the Balangiga bells as its war bounty.
During the same speech, the President, also:
* Told United Stated to return the Balangiga bells.
* Asked the Supreme Court to reconsider temporary restraining order on reproductive health implants.
* Announced that he has raised to P1 billion the budget for the welfare fund for Overseas Filipino Workers.
* Warned corrupt government officials that he has zero tolerance for grafters in government service.
Accepted P25 billion offer of Mighty Corp. to settle tax liabilities.
Urged Senate to pass the Tax Reform Law.
President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) was made more striking by his colorful language as he veered away from his prepared speech and spoke at times in Cebuano as he declared his positions on the drug war and the decision to suspend talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
The President also took his two-hour speech to push for his legislative agenda.
The President also did not minced words and slammed his critics before lawmakers, diplomats and government officials.
The President said the fight against illegal drugs, which has so far claimed over 7,000 lives, will continue and would be “unrelenting” even if criticism would continue to mount over human right issues.
He once again slammed United Nations for criticizing his drug war and called for the reimposition of death penalty.
Mr. Duterte said Congress should pass the death penalty on drug-related offenses, insisting that in the Philippines, a criminal who took one’s life should pay for the offense with his own life.
“I ask Congress to act on all pending legislation to reimpose death penalty on heinous crime,” Duterte said.
He said the death penalty under the Revised Penal Code was not only meant for retribution but also to prevent the criminal from killing another person again. “In the Philippines, it’s really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Mr. Duterte said. “You took a life, then you must pay [for] it with life.”
He said he did not agree with the belief a criminal mind could be reformed.
“You can’t place premium on the human mind, that you will go straight. Nobody can,” he said.
Mr. Duterte decried that being too “lenient” on drug criminals, in the hope that they could be reformed, would only allow them to commit more crimes once released from prison.
“You are soon to be lenient about this son of a bitch, a human being that has a virulent brain and his enemy is society,” President Duterte said.
While he stressed that the pursuit for peace will continue up to the last day of his administration, he was stood firm on his decision to halt all talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Kayong sa left, I will not talk to you. why should I?” he said, even as he called on Jose Maria Sison, the self-exiled founder of CPP, whom he said is now suffering from colon cancer, to give up the fight.
“Napura na ko (I’ve had enough),” he said in Cebuano, to explain about what he said was the duplicity of the communist negotiators who said they wanted peace but attacked and killed soldiers, policemen and ambushed even members of the Presidential Security Group.
He said there was also no compromise with Islamic extremists as he once again justified why he needed to extend martial law in Mindanao up to the end of the year.
Imposing martial law was a means to quell rebellion by Islamic State (IS)-inspired militants and extending martial rule beyond 60 days is needed to ensure that those who managed to flee from the war in Marawi City would not be able to form new cells elsewhere in Mindanao or in other parts of the country.
The President assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of his solid support for the two organizations.
“For soldiers and policemen risking their lives for our country and democracy, I have your backs,” he said.
Whatever the troops will do, Duterte said “I hold myself, me and me alone should be responsible.”
He also lauded the efforts of the government troops fighting in the conflict-torn Marawi City.
“They are the silent heroes who risk their lives every day for our country’s security,” he said.
The President said his administration would make it a “non-negotiable” policy to protect the environment from the destructive effects of mining.
Duterte demanded all mining companies to clean up the adverse effects of their mining operations.
“Reasonable and sustainable development is what we advocate and require,” he said. “The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or the other. This policy is non-negotiable.”
Mr. Duterte said he would hold all mining companies and officials “responsible for the full cleanup, restoration, rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining activities and the extension of all necessary support to all communities that have suffered.”
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