(Note from MindaNews: This is the official transcript of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech, released by the Presidential News Desk of the Presidential Communications Office)
Presidential Communications Office
Presidential News Desk
PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
DURING THE PHILIPPINE-QATAR BUSINESS FORUM
[Delivered at Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, Qatar |
15 April 2017]
I have a speech prepared by my staff. It’s about four pages. But you know there are so many issues about my country that you may want to know.
The situation in the Philippines is not different from your situation hundred years ago. You know, the reason why there is a ruckus, there is a rebellion fighting in the South is because of colonialism.
In 1521, when Magellan, a Portuguese, was financed by King Philip of Spain to go to the Far East to conquer lands. And what is really very funny to us and insulting is that even in our history books there is a statement there which or a question which says “Who discovered the Philippines?” In Grade 4, it is written in our books that it was Magellan. You know, even before Magellan was born, the Philippines was already there. It was a part of the Srivijayas empire of the Malay race. Majority of whom or almost all, were Muslims.
And so Magellan entered into the Central Visayas area. It’s the islands in between Luzon and Mindanao. And they conquered. And they bludgeon the Philippines into submission. They brought along… I do not have anything about religion. I do not have an issue about Christianity, Islam, or whatever Jew. But this is the historical fact. They forced upon my own people because they had the cannons, and for the first time, the natives there, my forefathers, heard the gunpowder explosion.
And so it was easy for them to conquer the Visayas up to Luzon because at that time it was only Mindanao who was active. And I said we were part of the Srivijayas empire. But because of sheer force of arms, they had the rifles, we call it the muskets and they had everything explosions, and so we were force to kneel down on our knees. Majority were converted into Christianity. I do not have to repeat to you every colonial who was gone to places, as for example like the Middle East before.
And that is why until now Philippines could have been a perfect country. Well, if not for the fact that there is a great divide before and that is religion. But do not believe in the stories that the Muslim Filipinos, the Moro of Mindanao are our enemies because my grandmother was a Moro, a Muslim. [applause] So do not believe. There are really an active rebellion and that is correct. There is what you call “the rising nationalism” of the original people tribes of Mindanao who were already one hundred years before Magellan were already Muslims, Islam.
And so when they went there to further conquer the islands, they met a vicious resistance, a violent one. And so massacre after massacre after massacre.
And in 152 — Treaty of Paris, the Spaniards lost to the Americans. And they ceded part of their territories, Spain, they gave it up to the Americans, like the Marianas Island, Guam. So they have Filipino names, actually they have Spanish names. And we were forced in a Decree of 1887, there was a decree that we had to adopt Spanish names and surnames. That is the history. But administration after administration tried to talk about peace. And it always ended in a failure.
Now is my time, so I have to talk to the Communist because we are friends. Maybe I share their paradigm for poverty and the helpless people. But the situation now is really the result of imperialism.
The great divide of Mindanao and the rest of the country is because of imperialism. We did not like it. My grandfather fought against them. The grandfather of my grandfather was maybe executed. But you know that is how the world history was written. The Americans, the British, Italians, they came here in the Middle East and they built their industrialized nation well ahead of us. Well ahead of you in development.
What was their capital? It was the Arab money, in the Orient, in the Far East. Where do they get their wood, mining, and all of the natural resources? They got it from us. They built their empires at the expense of the blood and resources of the poor people they conquered.
Indonesia went to the Dutch. Malaysia went to the British. The Philippines went to the American. And we had to fight long wars and it was given to us only after 50 bloody years of fighting. And the massacres that they…
And that is why there is always the hurt. It cannot be erased just because of the passage of the years. And they would say, “Mayor, that was two centuries ago.”
Really? You just make the excuse in one simple statement? Why do you have to go to the Orient? And why did you conquer Africa and the Middle East? For what? You became rich way ahead and continued to rule as if you were really the owners.
And that is the reason why I had to explain to you because you must know the dimension of the trouble there. But we are talking. Nur Misuari is my friend, and maybe because of the little blood in me of my grandmother. The MI, the MN are talking to me now and even the Communist. We do not have any trouble with the rebellions now. But what we have inherited, all of us in this world, is the violent ideology of the ISIS. They are here, they are in Mindanao, and they anointed a leader of the Abu Sayyaf, and these are the group down South that would continue to behead everybody which you see on TV. So why? Because of — they were in despair. What do we do? They accessed our land. The Christians are here, and they own big ones. Why? Because at that time no self-respecting Muslim would work for them in Mindanao. They refused to be the wage earners of the Americans. And the Americans had to call upon peoples from the Visayas and Luzon go to Mindanao because it is the ‘land of promise’.
True they gave us land, in their surveys, in their land dividing it into so many… They forgot to reserve that there is the original owners and those are the tribes of Maranao, like Secretary Khayr Alonto, Secretary Mamondiong and a fraternity brother of mine in school, Secretary Mama-o. There are a lot of Muslims in my Cabinet. We are trying to work out something.
I hope that Allah would be most gracious for us. The merciful would grant us peace. And we hope to succeed in our peace talks. We are ready to reconfigure the land. We are ready to concede what was lost of them. And the only thing that I ask from the Moro people is that remember that we did not know that we are all victims of imperialism.
Spain stayed with us for 400 years. And the Americans stayed with us for 50 years. We were the colonized people. And that is why there is a bit of… But the Philippines today is fundamentally peaceful. The MILF under Murad and the MNLF under Nur Misuari, they are talking to us. We are trying to figure the infrastructure of how we should proceed. And by what manner should be the historical injustice corrected. That is the most important thing there.
But in other places, Philippines is an agricultural country. We know that we can offer you so many things from the bounties of the Earth. We have mining, we have everything, ore, uranium, and the South China Sea which is being contested by so many countries. But with the movement of people there occupying the lands, I ordered my military to occupy the remaining 10 islands who are not inhabited, place our flag there, put some structures, and I said last week I claim these islands as property of the Philippines. It’s because everybody is grabbing every land there in the South China Sea. So if we do not act fast, we will end up with nothing.
And so on the right side there is the Benham Rise and it was claimed after an American who discovered the place. Nobody discovers the sea. Everybody has cede the sea. If you start claiming there you are crazy. So I renamed it the “Philippine Ridge”, and I announced to all including to America that this is ours. Do not come here. [applause]
So if you go into business, the place, the Philippines is big enough to accommodate any kind of vegetation. Of course, we have lost the woods, the trees. The early lumber companies there were not Filipinos. And if you go to America and they would knock on the walls and they would even say proudly, “This is Philippine mahogany.” But of course you are just there, you listen but your heart bleeds because that is our wood. That was what God gave us. And so with these marauding colonizers and they think they’re still be the big boss of the world. They even tried to impose upon us. Small as I am, they continue to interfere, prompting me to say, “Mr. President, you can go to hell. Stop it. I will do what I have to do for my country. Do not interfere.”
And they threatened me with the International Criminal Court. I said, “fine”. If that is my destiny to die for my country I will gladly place the rope on my neck and I would say I did it for my country.[applause]
But I will not… So that I have offered the Philippines not only to the familiar businessmen and even the mining and all, it’s open for everybody. And there is no corruption. Because the one thing that pulled my country down all these years was corruption.
So I give you the authority to… If somebody from the Internal Revenues, Customs would ask you even 10 pesos, shoot him.[applause] I will not allow corruption and we are doing it. Then the country is suffering from the onslaught of drugs. And one of the… I made just five promises during the campaign. Because we were just given in a public forum one minute and a half, so what can I say about my country? So I just… I will stop corruption, I will suppress drugs, I will do away with criminality, and because I am not a bright economist, my grade in Economics when I was in third year was only 75. So there are so many bright people around, of course, I have Secretary Tugade. The Minister of… [tumindig ka nga Art] [applause]He was my classmate in the Law School. He was our valedictorian. He is already a billionaire. Eh bright eh, so I got him. And all of the others, they are all rich. I am the only one who does not have any money because I am not bright. I don’t have the economic mind. Seventy-four, 75 that is the passing grade. Slowly, slowly but I reached there.
And my Cabinet are all bright people. Valedictorians and… Me? Just a struggling student. But the surprise of it all is that these bright guys, these billionaires, work for me. [applause]
Now I did not have the money, I did not have the party, it’s a very small one, it’s a party in Mindanao island only. But in all of the areas in Mindanao, in the Moro dominated, the Muslim dominated, I got a landslide even outside. Here I got almost 76 percent of the total workers overseas in a voting — absentia voting. I got the ano…
And I just promised that there will be no corruption. If you go to the Philippines, I do not allow the Customs to open your bags. Anyway, when the baggages are deplaned, they usually pass through the underground warehouse where there are cameras. And if there are contrabands or prohibited items there, they will see it. So it reaches the conveyors, there is no need to open the bags. And the usual victims before were the OFWs. Us, I was mayor, we were just waved and with the salute, “Sige.” But the OFWs, the poor OFWs are really skinned alive there while opening the bags and getting something. So that has to end. That has to end. No touch, just look. Do not worry about bombs because if it will explode, that’s the end of you and that is the end of your worries too in life. [laughter]
You go with it so… But they are very well inspected down, the underground cargo handling of the airlines.
So these are the things I would have wanted to read the… But I also… In my corruption, I have fired — I have fired even a Cabinet member in front of the Cabinet members in a meeting because he was lying and I told him, “You are lying. You are fired. Get out of this room.”
So I have fired also friends who worked for me since 1988 when I became mayor. I was first mayor in 1988 and stayed there for 23 years as mayor; and as a congressman. I never lost an election until I became President.
And that is why I have this rare opportunity given to me by God to talk to you. What I can say is that there will be no… We will honor contracts. We will honor our obligations. That is in the Constitution itself that there shall be no impairment of the obligation of contracts. So insofar as trade is concerned I can assure you, what we sign and I agree with you will be done even if we lose in the transaction, we will honor what we have promised. [applause]
Philippines has always been known to not to honor contract, no, no, no, this time. It’s because many people would like to get hold of the contract and if the commission is not big enough for distribution, they would suspend the contract and everything. Nothing of the sort.
I can live with my salary. It’s a little bit small. You know there are officials in government receiving 2,800,000. I should be firing them before the end of the month. All of them. Because why? I am envy because mine is only 130,000.
I do not sign any allowances. I live by my salary. And I have two families. [applause] That’s the problem. So one-half, one-half. And my eldest daughter — first wife is… She’s a lawyer. She’s now the mayor. This is her second time to be mayor. Had she not consented to run in this election as mayor, I would not have filed my certificate of candidacy as president because I hated, you know, leaving Davao because it’s so good now that it my return back.
But I am very lucky that I have this bond of honor with my Muslim brothers. They respect my ancestry so that I can talk to them. I can even invite them to join my Cabinet.
So these are the things that I guarantee to you. Everything will be all right. Everything will be followed. There will be no harassments. There will be no asking of money. It will be a truly honest to goodness transaction. And if you do not believe me, your Ambassador, Alan Timbayan, he was my roommate. He’s a Tausug. He’s a Muslim. We stayed in one room. We never argued even half a minute. Roommates and… We love each other. So we love you. Why? I’ll tell you, because it is of our national interest that the Gulf states who has provided employment and thereby contributed to the gross national product of my country and you also help educate our people, the young Filipinos, who do not have the means to finance school. Their mothers and fathers are here working; and they send the money to the Philippines. Partly the kind people of Qatar are also financing the education of our young.
And that is why it is of our national interest to see to it that you are stable, that there is no trouble bugging you and we will stand by you. That’s what I committed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. It’s because of the lives of so many people there.
And I said I am even willing, if you are in trouble, if you are short with manpower, I have a very disciplined military and I can send them here. You will not have any trouble with them. They are law abiding, well-disciplined and they can stay here, just to send them to the borders.
But I would like to ask you to just feed them because we don’t have the money to spend to — for their food. But give them shelters and they will fight for you. I said we will stand by you. [applause] If there is a need then we’ll do it. I do not need the permission of America not to… I am independent of them. And I will only protect where our interest lies.
There are millions of Filipinos here. You can be sure that if you need us, we will come here. Do not worry about discipline. I said my Army is… Just like any other Army in the world, they are very disciplined. And they can fight. Fight our national interest here and to protect and defend you.
Thank you very much. [applause]