‘We will not stop’
(The Philippine Star) - July 26, 2016 - 12:01am

Human rights no excuse to destroy country – Duterte     

MANILA, Philippines - Until the last drug lord or pusher is put behind bars or killed, there will be no stopping the government’s vicious anti-drug campaign, President Duterte declared in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday.

In his SONA that lasted for an hour and 38 minutes, Duterte also said human rights should never be used to protect drug offenders.

“There will be no let-up in this campaign; double your efforts, triple them, if need be,” Duterte ordered law enforcers. “We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or been put behind bars or are below the ground if they so wish.”

He assured law enforcers of his full support in the discharge of their duties in fighting criminals, but warned them of severe consequences if they abuse their power.

“To our police officers and other officials, do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the Office of the President. I will be with you all the way. Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay,” he said.

Duterte, whose anti-drug campaign has been linked to a spate of summary executions and bloody police operations, said he is ready to stake his honor, his life and the presidency to ensure the success of his war on drugs.

“Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country – your country and my country,” he pointed out.

The former Davao City mayor, who had promised to stamp out or significantly reduce criminality within his first six months as President, stressed he is ready to kill anyone who destroys the youth and the country with illegal drugs.

He made clear his war against drug offenders would be “bloody” and “ruthless.”

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over the rising cases of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

Latest police data showed that 293 drug suspects were killed in law enforcement operations as of July 24. A total of 120,038 drug pushers and users, meanwhile, have surrendered to authorities.

While rallying law enforcers to go tough on criminals, especially drug lords, Duterte also ordered the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to hasten its investigation and adjudication of administrative cases against police officers involved in criminal and illegal activities.

“The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) is also directed to strictly monitor how LGUs (local government units) perform their supervision functions of the police and those found not performing will be sanctioned, including the loss of police deputation from the Napolcom,” the President said. 

“Let me repeat my warning to all: do not do drugs because you will be the solution to the drug crisis that has engulfed the nation,” he added.

Duterte said he would form an interagency committee on illegal drugs that would “integrate efforts and strengthen the partnership of all stakeholders.”

“The reservists will be mobilized for information campaign against drug use and the dissemination of information regarding drug rehabilitation programs being offered by the government,” Duterte said.

“We will also prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users. We will increase the number of residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in all regions of the country,” he added.

The military was also tasked to prepare camps for use as drug rehabilitation facilities as drug users have been surrendering by the hundreds each day since June.

He reiterated his concern over reports prepared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that there were three million drug users in the country as of 2014.

As part of disciplining the youth, Duterte also cited the need for the strengthening of the Reserved Officers Training Course in colleges and universities. “We will also strengthen ROTC to instill love of country and good citizenship,” the President said. 

“There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure, and it is our duty to uplift the people’s welfare,” Duterte said. 

Enforce RH Law now

Duterte also vowed to be just as determined in implementing the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, as well as other measures promoting the rights of women and indigenous people.

“The implementation of the responsible parenthood and reproductive health law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor, will have the freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children that they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force,” he said.

The Catholic Church has strongly campaigned against the passage and implementation of the RH law.   

He also reiterated his belief in the separation of church and state but stressed “there should never be a separation between God and state.”

He maintained his administration would invest significantly in human capital as well as ensure equal access to economic opportunities.

“When employment is not an option, for instance in extremely rural neighborhoods, entrepreneurship will be advocated,” Duterte added.

He also directed the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide monthly rice subsidies to the poorest Filipinos, aside from giving them basic health care.

The Philippine population grew from 47.4 million in 1980 to 98.4 million in 2013. Its growth rate from 2010 to 2015 was pegged at 1.72 percent per year.

Last year, a census showed a population of 100.98 million Filipinos.

And as the country strives to industrialize, Duterte emphasized such efforts should not be hampered by global warming mitigating initiatives spearheaded by rich nations.

“Addressing global warming will be our top priority, but upon a fair and equitable equation,” the President said. “It must not stymie our industrialization.”

Duterte noted that energy sources are needed to industrialize the country. He said industrialization involves carbon emissions, which have been linked to changing climate patterns and extreme weather conditions.

Last week, Duterte said he would not honor the Paris Agreement forged last December, which requires nations to act on climate change by reducing greenhouse gases.

He also accused industrialized countries of “dictating the destiny” of developing ones by requiring them to limit carbon emissions.

Duterte has described the Paris climate deal as “stupid” and “absurd.”

He also argued that while the Philippines has backed the agreement, he would not honor it because he was not the one who signed it.

The deal, which aims to limit global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, was inked by more than 150 countries, including disaster-prone Philippines, last April.

Duterte also said his promise of change would also be greatly felt by tourists and air travelers with his plan to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City by tapping the facilities of Sangley Point.

Sangley Point in Cavite had served as a communications and hospital facility of the US Navy.

“Different approaches are also being considered to decongest NAIA, including the possible transfer of general aviation,” he said.

 “I am not sticking to formalities. (This) general aviation, alam mo kung sino ang tinatamaan niyan? Kayong mayayaman. Kayong may mga helicopter pati eroplano, ilipat ko kayo (You know who’s going to be most affected? The rich, the owners of helicopters and aircraft. You will have to move),” he said.

“Owners of Lear Jets, I’ll take you to Batanes where there is less traffic. No, I’m offering Sangley Point,” he said.

This, he said, might require the building of a new runway at Sangley Point. If building a new runway at Sangley would pose danger to residents of Merville Village in Parañaque, he said another alternative would be Clark Air field.

Duterte said he has directed Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to look at constructing a fast train system between Metro Manila and Clark Field in Pampanga.

“Moreover, a one-stop shop will be established within the civil aviation complex for the benefit of the overseas Filipinos. This will happen… To utilize the Clark Airport, it is necessary to establish... well, you have a rail to connect,” Duterte said.

Stepping down after federalism

President Duterte is willing to step down from his post in the fourth or fifth year of his administration once the form of government is changed to federalism.

Duterte said a president should lead the envisioned parliamentary and federal government, but clarified that he would not perform such a role.

“You must have a president. You copy France’s system. Do not leave everything to parliament. It is too risky. There is no single apparatus that will govern from the commander-in-chief down,” the President told lawmakers.

He urged Congress to hasten the shift to the federal system and submit it to the people by the fourth or fifth year of his presidency.

“You call for a referendum, and after that a presidential election,” he said. “Then I will go. Sibat na ako (I’ll step down).”

Duterte said the powers of the president could be limited to ceremonial ones or accepting resolutions, except in times of need.

He said once the constitutional amendments are passed and the final version of the bill is handed to him for approval, he would call for an election the next day or the following week.

“Even if there is still two or three years left, I will go. Do not worry about it. I am not into that ambition.”

Duterte has been pushing for federalism, believing this would promote development in the countryside and address the problem in Mindanao. The establishment of a federal state is the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

Defending Gina

President Duterte defended Environment Secretary Gina Lopez from critics and gave her the go-signal to amend, suspend or revoke mining permits of companies that violate environmental laws.

He also directed the military to intensify its support role against illegal logging, illegal mining and other destructive practices that aggravate the devastation of natural resources.

“I have to protect the country. Many are complaining against the appointment of Gina Lopez. But Gina and I – we share the same paradigm: the interest of the country must come first,” he said.

“Gina Lopez and I are just telling you: follow government standards. Do not destroy the environment. Follow it to a T and we will not have a problem,” he said.

The President said Lopez, whom he described as an environmental crusader, is just doing her job in protecting the environment.

He also tasked Lopez to draw an eco-tourism plan for Laguna Lake to address environmental issues and support small-time fishermen.

The President hinted that the fish pens that dot Laguna Lake may be owned by a general, mayor, governor and even a member of the House of Representatives. - With Christina Mendez,  Giovanni Nilles, Alexis Romero





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