President Duterte: “The ride will be rough. But come and join me just the same”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 June) — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the first Mindanawon to lead the country, called on all Filipinos to join him “as we embark on this crusade for a better and brighter tomorrow.”

Running for President under an agenda of “tunay na pagbabago” (genuine change), the Davao City mayor for 22 years, said the people “must have the courage and the will to change ourselves”

In his inaugural address after taking his oath as the country’s 16th President, the 71-year old Duterte said that in the journey towards a better Philippines, the “lost and faded” values of love of country, subordination of personal interests to the common good, concern and care for the helpless and the impoverished, have to be recovered and revitalized.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his inaugural address after taking his oath as the country's 16th President and first Mindanawon head of state. Photo courtesy of Malacanang New and Information Bureau
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his inaugural address after taking his oath Thursday noon as the country’s 16th President and first Mindanawon head of state. Photo courtesy of Malacanang New and Information Bureau

“The ride will be rough. But come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder, let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest,” Duterte said in his 39-paragraph, 14-minute speech that was interrupted by applause 21 times.

He said corruption, criminality in the streets and rampant sale and use of illegal drugs, and the breakdown of law and order are “mere symptoms of a virulent social disease that creeps and cuts into the moral fiber of Philippine society” but the real problem is “erosion of faith and trust in government.”

“I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier,” he added.

The President said he is aware that his methods of fighting criminality, corruption and the sale and use of illegal drugs are being criticized as “unorthodox and verge on the illegal.”

But he urged his critics to look at these issues from the perspective of how funds supposedly to uplift the poor did not reach the intended because of corruption, of how illegal drugs have destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships, and how years of accumulated savings are lost to criminality.

He asked Congress and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) “and all others who are similarly situated, to allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate.”

“The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained,” he vowed.

The audience applauded. And did so again after Duterte said that as lawyer and former prosecutor, he is aware of the limits of the power and authority of the President.

“I know what is legal and what is not,” he said, adding, “my adherence to due process, to the rule of law is uncompromising.” Both statements were greeted with applause.

“You mind your work, and I will mind mine,” the President said. The audience of around 600 clapped again.

CHR chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon told MindaNews that they are “heartened by his affirmation to adhere to due process and the rule of law in addressing the many issues he will face during his incumbency.”

“Such is all we hope and expect as this proceeds from the solemn oath he took today,” Gascon said as the CHR looks forward to “engaging with his administration on human rights as we each must do what we must.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)