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Duterte:  Change won’t be easy, must come from all of us

/ 04:18 PM June 30, 2016

MANILA—Change is coming, but it won’t come easy.

President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to join him in his journey of transformation for a better country but warned them to brace for a bumpy ride.

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As he takes over as the country’s 16th President,  Duterte said his promised change must not only come from him but from citizens as well.

Recalling his campaign slogan of compassion and real change, he said his words were not just meant to gain the voters’ approval but to set the direction of his government.

“These were battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change. But the change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us,”  Duterte said in his first speech as Chief Executive.

“To borrow the language of F. Sionil Jose, we have become our own worst enemies. And we must have the courage and the will to change ourselves,” he added.

It won’t be smooth-sailing all the way, according to Duterte.

“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,” he said.

At the same time, he vowed to forge on with the restoration of the Filipinos’ lost and faded values— love of country, subordination of personal interests to the common good, concern and care for the helpless and the impoverished.

Duterte, who promised a “metamorphosis”upon his oath-taking as President, refrained from expletives or bombastic claims in his nearly 15-minute speech delivered in English with a smattering of Bisaya.

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The President vowed to address the country’s pressing problems— rampant corruption, criminality, illegal drugs, and the breakdown of law and order— but pointed out that these have been stemming from the deeper issue of the people’s loss of of confidence in the government.

“Erosion of faith and trust in government – that is the real problem that confronts us. Resulting therefrom, 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 said.

“Indeed ours is a problem that dampens the human spirit. But all is not lost,” he added

No government could survive without the people’s support, he said, and promised to listen to their concerns and to restore their belief in their leaders.

“It is the people from whom democratic governments draw strength and this administration is no exception. That is why we have to listen to the murmurings of the people, feel their pulse, supply their needs and fortify their faith and trust in us whom they elected to public office,” he said.

The first President from Mindanao also said he would be the leader of the entire nation, not just one class or group.

He has adopted as his “article of faith” a line from a person whose name he admitted he could no longer recall: “I have no friends to serve, I have no enemies to harm.”

Issuing his first directive to the Cabinet, he told his secretaries to untangle the red tape and poor service that has characterized the bureaucracy.

They should reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications, and remove redundant requirements.

He also warned them against playing around with government contracts and projects that have already been approved and awaiting implementation.

“Changing the rules when the game is on-going is wrong,” he said.

Dealings should also be transparent from start to finish as he has always abhorred secrecy, he said, and those who would dare defy him could say goodbye.

“Do them and we will work together. Do not do them, we will part sooner than later,” he said.

To set the tone for his economic, financial and political policies, he cited two quotes.

The first was from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “The test of government is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have little.”

The other is from Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; You cannot help  the poor by discouraging the rich; You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer; You cannot further the brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men.”

Duterte also said the Philippines would honor treaties and international obligations.

On the domestic front, he vowed to implement all signed peace agreements and promised to pursue an inclusive peace.

“I am elated by the expression of unity among our Moro brothers and leaders, and the response of everyone else to my call for peace. I look forward to the participation of all other stakeholders, particularly our indigenous peoples, to ensure inclusivity in the peace process,” he said.

During his speech, Duterte also took the chance to address criticism directed at his crime fighting ways when he was Davao City mayor.

His success in maintaining peace and order has been overshadowed by concerns of human rights violations and lack of due process, and he has been linked to the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group tagged behind the summary killings of crime suspects.

Taking note of disapproval for his methods that have been described as “unorthodox and verge on the illegal,” Dutere said he has seen the devastation crime has wrought.

But as a lawyer and a former prosecutor, he “knows the limits of his power and authority” as President.

“I know what is legal and what is not.  My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine,” he said.

The 16th President ended his speech with impromptu remarks to convey his commitment to his job, underscoring his penchant for deviating from tradition or protocol.

“Why am I here?” he asked, before remarking that this portion was not included in his speech.

“The past tense was, I am here because I love my country and I love the people of the Philippines. I am here, why? Because I am ready to start my work for the nation,” he concluded.

Duterte took his oath of office before Supreme Court Justice Bienvenido Reyes, with his children Sara, Paolo, Sebastian, and Veronica sharing the stage with him.

Veronica held the bible that Duterte used as he promised to serve the nation.

Contrary to what was earlier announced, Duterte’s barong for his inauguration was unadorned save for a Philippine flag on his left breast. He paired it with beige slacks.

An earlier Palace statement said he was expected to don an ecru barong with beige and light brown details and a pattern evoking the Manobo tribe, one of Mindanao’s minorities.  SFM/rga

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