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Opinion

Salamat PRRD

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

Six years ago, the Philippines elected President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who, to many, is easily and fondly called PRRD. Also known as Digong, PRRD is the first President of the Philippines from Mindanao. In 2016, and for me, the Philippines became culturally united as a leader from the south brought a convergence of people back to life. No one expected a Duterte in those days – at least the ones who underestimated him and relied on the basic statesman type of president that we were all accustomed to. Change indeed came and it has propelled our nation forward.

Coming from Luzon, I for one did not know who Duterte was until Yolanda struck. On the other hand, my love for Duterte happened when the war hit us in the battle for Marawi. In those days, I had just finished enlisting as an Army reserve and having the opportunity to write about our soldiers there genuinely opened my eyes to a life I never knew of and, more importantly, the role one must play in nation building. Being a war hero himself, my grandfather Peping Roces told me stories of Marawi which had been a source of great pride for Maranaws and all of Muslim Mindanao. Eventually, seeing it war-torn and in the middle of rehabilitation, I understood what he meant, more so, when I saw Duterte’s will power to help the people rise again.

It is only in my lifetime that I, among the rest of the nation in my generation, the generation in between the baby boomers and the millennials, experienced the emotional sunburst of liberation. While in those days EO 70 was not yet enacted, I firmly believe it was already in action. Then Coronel and now CPGA Lt. General Romeo Brawner showed me how it took everyone to participate in national security, where locals themselves assumed the job of ensuring that their areas remain safe and free from insurgency. Secretary Rolando Bautista, a kind and gentle soul and Marawi’s frontman, showed me the importance of “digging my boots” as he shared the risks with everyone in the frontlines for the sake of peace. As the Scout Rangers continue to teach me, “Walang Iwanan,” a concept that goes beyond words, simply put, is a way of life where nobody is left behind.

Culture, as they say, begins from the top and this is what Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy has taught me by putting human lives first. I never expected a Duterte presidency six years ago and while I have lost many friends in support of him, I have gained triple and across the nation. Today, and six years after, they are the very same people who, to this day, and in support of a new administration, have proven to be by my side through thick and thin for the sake of the nation’s overall security. It takes all of us to build this country and we must love it for it is the only one we’ve got.

In less than a week, President Duterte will step down from office but one thing is for sure; many of us continue to see what he has done for our country even in the darkest of times. With all of our hearts, Mr. President, we are truly grateful. Hindi ka namin makakalimutan. You were the beacon of light when we lost all hope. For never giving up on us, Maraming salamat po, PRRD.

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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