CHANGE OR DIE
In what could be his last public appearance before he assumes the country’s top position, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed to truly serve the country, to equally share the country’s resources and to deliver peace.
“Presidents sit in power to make money. That is the reason why our country’s condition hasn’t improved,” he said in Cebuano.
When he assumes the presidency at noon of June 30, Duterte said he would launch an all-out war against illegal drugs nationwide.
“The police generals and other officials who are involved in illegal drug trades (will) have to go,” Duterte said.
Duterte, speaking for about 45 minutes late last night mainly in Cebuano before a crowd of supporters at the Sugbo grounds on South Road Properties (SRP) here, said his zero tolerance for crime and corruption means that those who would not want to reform “nangita sila sa ilang kamatayon ( are courting death).”
“Kung di taka madala ug hangyo, patyon ta gyud ka (If I could not convince you, I will have to kill you),” he said.
“I don’t promise you great things. My legacy to this country is peace. If drugs and corruption will be eliminated under my watch, then I’m fine,” he said.
The incoming president cautioned Filipinos about the ill-effects of drugs and urged those involved in the illegal drug trade to stop what they are doing.
“Undang na mo ana. (Stop that). Drugs in a sachet can create a monstrous problem. If I couldn’t convince you, I’ll have you killed. Just imagine if I kill 10 persons a day for the six years (he will be in office). If you’re into drugs, I’m very sorry. I’ll have to apologize to your family because you’ll surely get killed,” he said.
“When I become the president, don’t fool around with me. This person from Davao is not an easy prey. If you won’t stop, then you’re looking for your own death,” he added.
Based on the report he got from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, there are over three million drug addicts in the country today. And for every barangay, there are five persons involved in drugs.
“That’s a problem. If I have all these three million drug addicts from the streets, where will I place them?” he said.
He said other crimes emanate from the problem of illegal drugs.
“Rape, robbery, etc. — these crimes are caused by illegal drug use. And so I have to cut it off from the source,” he said.
And how will he solve the problem?
Aside from fighting illegal drugs, Duterte said he would also stop corruption in the country.
He reiterated his plans to remove the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue — allegedly two of the most corrupt agencies in the government.
“Corruption has to stop. Report to me instances of corruption, and I’ll really humiliate the persons concerned. I’m not totally a bad person; just a bit,” Duterte said.
“If I can’t convince you through requests, then I’ll let you experience a bit of wrath. Please let Filipinos rest from being victims of corruption at least for just six years . If I won’t be able to finish my term, bahala na mo,” he added.
Duterte said he will set up at least 12 24-hour hotlines where people can report about corruption in government.
Duterte also vowed to address the long queues when getting permits from government offices. He said he will order all departments of government to respond to applications for business permit and other certifications.
“These are the things I want to correct during my administration,” he said.
He reiterated his plan to change the form of government from democratic to federal to equally share the country’s wealth.
“Cebuanos are battling for federalism because they think the central government (Manila) has been receiving much of the wealth. But Filipinos alike are paying taxes,” Duterte said.
After addressing drugs, criminality and corruption, Duterte said he wanted to solve the conflicts in Mindanao.
“I find that very challenging right now. I’m currently talking to communists, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. I urged them to stop the war,” he said.
When his term ends after six years, Duterte said he will be happy to see the safe, peaceful and corruption-free Philippines.
“If I’ll remove drugs, criminality and corruption, I can say that I could now leave this world,” he said.
Duterte also thanked his Cebuano supporters.
“I’ve been longing to return to Cebu to thank all of you for the resounding support you gave me in the last elections,” he said.
The event, dubbed as “One Love, One Nation #CAll4Change Thanksgiving Celebration,” was organized by the incoming president’s supporters in Cebu.
Duterte arrived at the venue at 10:15 p.m., fresh from attending a wedding reception on Mactan Island.
He delivered his speech an hour after.
Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos, Cebu City Police Office director, estimated the crowd at 2,500.
The program started around 7 p.m., three hours later than intended, due to the heavy rain experienced over the venue late in the afternoon.
Security was tight around the stage, and only those with special IDs were allowed to pass through a cordon of metal railings.
Those who got in were frisked by police personnel and members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
The crowd was only a fraction of the expected 50,000, but the security remained extremely tight.
The PSG and the Regional Police Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) put together a security plan for Duterte’s Cebu visit based “on a worst case scenario” for any presidential visit, according to Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, PRO-7 director.
Comendador, however, declined to comment if the tight security was related to reports that the incoming president is being targeted for liquidation by drug lords who were reportedly raising P1 billion to get him and his incoming Philippine National Chief, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa (see story on page 8).
Worst case scenario
Leoncio Jun Evasco, Duterte’s campaign manager and incoming Cabinet Secretary who joined him in Cebu, would not also say if they were able to confirm earlier reports of a planned hit on the incoming President by big-time drug syndicates.
Comendador was also mum on reports that aside from the PSG, Duterte brought in his own trusted police security personnel from Davao City.
“We make our security plan based on worst case scenario, and I wont know whether some PNP are from Davao (because) I can’t ask them one by one,” he told Cebu Daily News in a text message.
He, however, stressed that the number of PSG and police personnel assigned to secure the president-elect was “sufficient” to overcome any threat against Duterte, added Comendador.
According to sources, at least 120 PSG personnel and about 200 PNP and Armed Forces personnel, both uniformed and agents in civilian clothes, secured the premises at Sugbo grounds at the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City, where the concert-cum-thanksgiving party dubbed as “One Love, One Nation” was being held.
Hampared by heavy rain, however, only around 10,000 came, according to Doris Mongaya, a member of the organizing team. Comendador said their policemen on the ground estimated the crowd to be about 3,000 as of 9 p.m.
Some of the crowd came as early as noon, but the people only began coming in at past 5 p.m. after the rain had weakened.
Traffic was meanwhile normal at the SRP road according to the Cebu City Traffic Office (CCTO).
While waiting for Duterte to arrive, a group of Duterte supporters met with Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr., Duterte’s campaign manager whom he has named as his Secretary to the Cabinet, in an office at the second floor of the Sugbo building.
Evasco briefed Duterte’s campaign leaders in the Central Visayas region on the plan to form all pro-Duterte groups into an organization called “Kilusang Pagbabago.”
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