Duterte to Filipinos in Laos: There will be change
Alexis Romero (philstar.com) - September 6, 2016 - 5:15pm

VIENTIANE, Laos — President Rodrigo Duterte assured the Filipino community here Monday night that his administration is stepping up efforts to fight illegal drugs and corruption and to reach a settlement with rebel groups in the Philippines.

Duterte's attendance at a gathering of Filipinos here was his first-ever engagement outside the Philippines since assuming the presidency last June 30. He proceeded to the Feungfar Convention Center, the venue of the event, upon his arrival here minutes past 8 p.m.

"Despite the bombing in Davao, I had to go here. One is to show that they (bombers) cannot ask us on bended knees to postpone this just because of them," Duterte said, referring to the September 2 bombing that left 15 people dead and more than 60 others wounded.

"In the end, in the fullness of God's time, there will be reckoning. And there will be change. I'm just about two months plus (in the office). Just give me time and I'll fix the country," he added.

Duterte went on to talk about addressing crime and corruption in the Philippines, platforms that helped him secure a landslide victory in the 2016 presidential polls.

"There will be a clean government and it will be clean. And whether in or out of the country, I assure you, upon your return, the system has changed. And I would like to assure you that as a returning Filipino citizen, you will be accorded with the respect and dignity of a Filipino worker," the president said.

"We are good. We are trying to stop the very tough corruption," he added.

Duterte also explained his brutal crackdown against illegal drugs, which has been linked to the recent spate of killings in the Philippines and has drawn the attention of international bodies and the media.

"I would also ask for your understanding that we are still in the process of eradicating drugs. Many have died. Others were killed by the police. That's true. Others were salvaged (executed). That's true. But don't look at us. Why point fingers at us?" he said, adding that criminals should be made to pay for their wrongdoings.

"If I relent, if I stop, if I renege on these commitments, I would compromise the next generation of Filipinos."


 

Duterte also vowed to end the insurgency problem plaguing the country and to continue the peace process with the communists, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"If I am successful, by the grace of God, with the MI and the MN, I promise you, I will crush that rebellion. I will cut its roots to the last," he said.

Duterte also thanked the Lao government for taking care of the more than 1,500 Filipino migrant workers in this country.

"It is with gratitude that I bow to you being an Asian also."

Duterte's speech was not without wisecracks, a staple of his freewheeling and often lengthy speeches.

The president who earlier claimed to be a believer of God but not of organized religion, lectured about the last days and life after death.

"I am a Christian, that's the religion of my father. We can only say God has promised us eternal life. Even in our prayers, God says 'he will come to judge the living and the dead,'" he said.

"When is that? Only God can tell us but for sure, the planet will come to an end."

He then related it to the guts of Filipinos who faced risks to find jobs overseas.

The president then rehashed his joke about establishing his own religious group "Iglesia ni Duterte."

"There are things (that) the Catholic Church must change or else, by the end of this three decades from now, it will become irrelevant. Just join Iglesia ni Duterte," he said in jest.

"Nothing is prohibited. Go ahead drink. Women? Sure, until your wife kills you."

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