'No sacred cows': Duterte renews vow to fight corruption

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - July 22, 2019 - 8:52pm

MANILA Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte Monday vowed to keep fighting the ills plaguing the country until he steps down from office as he called for a "catharsis" that would counter the inner "demons" and "monsters" of the nation.

During his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he was "grossly disappointed" that corruption remains pervasive in the country, a problem that he said allowed the drug menace to remain. 

"It is not the eagle in the fight but the fight in the eagle that matters. Believe me, I will end my term fighting," the president said.

"It has been three years since I took my oath of office, and it pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists. Corruption continues and emasculates the courage we need to sustain our moral recovery initiatives," he added. 

Duterte cited the alleged funding of ghost dialysis treatments, which he said has deprived the government of millions of pesos that could have been used to treat illnesses and save lives. He also mentioned the Marawi siege, which he said was funded by drug money and involved armed men with sophisticated weaponry and locals radicalized by extremist dogma.

"Drugs will not be crushed unless we continue to eliminate corruption that allows this social monster to survive," the president said. 

Duterte went on to claim that the Filipinos themselves are their own enemies, citing corrupt acts that he said target the weak. 

"Honestly, I have identified the enemy who dumped us into this quagmire we are in. I have met the enemy face-to-face and sadly, the enemy is us. We are our own tormentors... We are our own demons; we are as rapacious predators preying on the helpless, the weak and the voiceless," the president said. 

"We find corruption everywhere in government with every malefactor watching his cohort’s back in blatant disregard of his oath when he assumed public office," he added. 

Duterte lamented that language has evolved "to soften the wickedness of the criminal act" like the use of phrases like "for the boys” and “sponsoring an event.”

"No amount of euphemism can trivialize or normalize betrayal of public trust or any other criminal offense. It is an injury laced with insult. It is both a national embarrassment and a national shame," he said. 

"For every transaction, a commission; for every action, extortion; and a request that goes on and on – endlessly and shamelessly."

Duterte said an immediate "self-purgation" is needed to address the problem, which he claimed constitutes the entire gamut of the country's system. 
"Catharsis is what we, individually and collectively, need to do today – not tomorrow but today. Self-purgation followed by the resolve to do what is right and proper, is good for the nation’s health," the president said. 

"I’ve been with government for almost 35 years now. I am not singling out myself...Corruption exasperates. It frustrates. It is also exasperating that there are times when I think that perhaps it is blood that we need to cleanse and rinse away the dirt and the muck that stick to the flesh like leeches. Of course, it is only a thought."

Duterte reiterated that there are no sacred cows in his administration, saying he has fired or caused the resignation of more than 100 officials and appointees of government "without regard to relationship, friendship and alliance." 

He said he is taking responsibility for the shortcomings of his administration and vowed to pursue programs that would protect the Filipinos and improve their quality of life.

"We are now entering a period of consequences. The consequences of what we did and did not do but should have done during my first half of my term. I assume full responsibility for that. As president, I cannot pass the blame to anybody, so it's on me," Duterte said. 

"Though we cannot change the past, we will not squander the future. I will push harder in the pursuit of programs that we have started but always within the parameters of the law. I will not merely coast along or while away my time during the remaining years of my administration. It ain't my style," he added.  

"But I will not stop until I reach the finish line. Then and only then shall I call it a day."

Duterte said his goal for the next three years is to provide a "comfortable life" for everybody and to sustain the gains of his administration. 

"I dream of glowing days ahead for every Filipino. I dream of a Philippines better than the one I grew up with. This is my pledge and commitment for just three years, if I can," the president said.  

"If I cannot, I am sorry. But I shall continue to comply with my constitutional duty to serve and protect the Filipino until the last day of my term." 

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