13 December 2016

President Duterte leads the awarding of 2016 Outstanding Young Men and Women
President Rodrigo Duterte called on the Honorees of The Outstanding Young Men and Women to share the responsibility of leading and lifting the Philippines out of the quagmire of complacency and to foster a culture of innovation and excellence that they epitomize.  

“Our nation is in a crucial period of introducing concrete and meaningful change. I need your support now more than ever so that we can collectively overcome the ills of illegal drugs, criminality and corruption that has plagued our nation for so long,” he said. 

The President stressed that corruption has pulled the country down which he vowed to stop as he also called on the public to support his drive to rid the government of this practice.

The President made the statement as he led the awarding of the eleven honorees of The Outstanding Young Men and Women for 2016 on Monday, Dec.12 in Malacanan where he lauded their accomplishments in nation-building that effected meaningful contribution to the country’s transformation by using their experiences, talents, and skills in their chosen fields to inspire others.

As the President vowed to keep his campaign promise of his vision to rid  the country of  graft and corruption, drugs and criminality, he noted that corruption has really pulled our country down. 

“Let me just  give you an analogy of something like an airplane running at a full speed on the runway for so many years but without really lifting. Wala. Hindi tumataas. That is what the Philippines is,” he said.

At the same time, he vowed to continue with the government’s war against criminality and illegal drugs given the enormity of the problem. 

The President awarded the honorees of The Outstanding Young Men and Women namely: Carmela Andal-Castro, Law (Child Protection); Clarisse  Delgado, Education; Ryan Guinaran,  Indigenous People Advocacy; Richard Heydarian, for Social Science; Richard Muallil, Marine Science; Ronivin Pagtakhan, Youth Leadership; Geraldine Racaza,  Medicine; Saturnino Tiamson, Arts in Music; Jhett Tolentino, Arts in Theatre; Earl Martin Valencia, Entrepreneurship; Randy Halasan, Education.

The President also recognized the role of Junior Chamber International (JCI) for establishing The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) as their landmark project which has stayed true to its mission of providing development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.

He said JCI has effectively promoted leadership and exemplary innovation among the youth their service to the community and the nation, their professional excellence and untarnished integrity and their exemplary leadership. 

The President stressed that by committing to do everyone’s part in nation-building and by even simply doing the things that is expected from everyone every day, “we can immensely contribute to the cultivation a far more better and more secure future for ourselves, our families and our communities.”

“Together, let us work hand in hand to secure the lives of our people, give them the best quality of life that can rightfully be deserved,” he said. ##PND

President Duterte honors three outstanding Filipinos in 2016 TOFIL Awards
President Rodrigo Duterte recognized three distinguished men during the presentation of the 2016 The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Awards on Monday, December 12.

This year’s TOFIL Awards recipients were Ambassador Jose Cuisia in the field of public service and diplomacy, Dr. William Dar in agriculture and Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual in humanitarian and community service cooperative.

The President cited Cuisia for his exemplary service as a former ambassador to the United States.

“His financial expertise and acumen also put to good use when he became Bangko Sentral Governor. He has served in other capacities in the insurance, utilities construction, business process outsourcing companies in the country,” he added.

Duterte also lauded Dar for his works in steering and directing the International Rice Research Institute and other agricultural research institutions.

“He has been instrumental in giving food and opportunities, not only for countrymen but for people all over the world, especially in India and the sub-Saharan Africa,” the Chief Executive said.

The President likewise recognized Pascual for efforts he has provided in healthcare, accessible loans, and self-improvement programs for the poor and marginalized Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Duterte emphasized anew his campaign promise to get rid of corruption, fight drug and criminality.

“I just want to give a respite to the Filipino. The reason why we have not progressed is really corruption. That is my honest opinion,” he said.

“But maybe in the fullness of God’s time baka we will be able to attain a certain degree of a more civilized bureaucracy,” he added.

The President announced that he had P1 billion from his social fund which he directly gave to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) intended for the rehabilitation of drug addicts urging them to stop using illegal drug.

He also announced the progress on the ongoing peace efforts of the government with the communist groups at the same time reiterated the call for a federal system of government.

“All of these things that I’m doing really because of love of my country. I’m not trying to be cruel. I do not want to be one. I said I guarantee you: I do not have any illusions about the presidency,” he said.

“The only thing that can appease the Moro people is — the last card there is federalism…But dito sa atin, especially with the so many islands, get a good president. I give you my word that if you can perfect it within three years, I will step down,” he added.###PND

President Duterte leads oath taking of federalism advocates, pushes for end to unitary setup
resident Rodrigo Duterte led the oath-taking Monday of the officials of People’s National Movement to Federalism Advocacy (PENAMFED) encouraging them to immediately work on a strong federal system of government, which he said would solve the country’s problems particularly Mindanao separatism.

“I’d like to thank you for showing the interest and keeping alive the spirit of federalism,” the President said in his speech during the event.

“There can never be peace especially in Mindanao if you do not grant them a certain amount of — much more than just a local autonomy,” he added.

Muslim Filipinos are already receptive of the federal system of government, he said noting the country must take advantage of it and end the unitary form of government.

The President said he wanted a three-year timeline in having a law that will pave the way to federalism in the Philippines. He said he is willing to step down and oversee a clean and honest election as long as lawmakers and federalism advocates craft such set up.

He brushed off accusations that he wants to perpetuate himself in power.

Under the current system, Duterte said the election of a Philippine president is controlled by the moneyed elites to sustain their interests.

He has less political baggage, he said, compared to other candidates.

In the case of Mindanao, he said territories there are ruled by powerful political clans through money and private armies also lamenting that illegal drugs have also crept into the system.

Manila-based political leaders support these warlords during elections, exacerbating the situation calling it as some of the “injustices” under the unitary type of government.

“But then, sabi ko sa inyo, unless we break this monopoly and money and guns. Wala. We will remain in the rot of things,” the President said.###PND

President Duterte says he is pro-business, assures investors of government support
President Rodrigo Duterte assured businessmen on Monday that his administration will honor contractual obligations, fight corruption and red tape, and allow businesses to flourish under a free market environment.

During the Wallace Business Forum Dinner in Malacanan, President Duterte addressed various concerns of investors in the country particularly on his economic policies and agenda.

A representative from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry expressed concern about the stability of BPOs amid changes in policies of the current administration.

“Forget your fears. This is a democracy. We follow the free enterprise. There would be changes, there would be changes for the better, not to kill businesses,” President Duterte said as a response.

“You can stop worrying, it’s actually a product of the other side. They would like to create an economic situation whereby there would be a tilt of balance there somewhere and destroy the economy and blame it on me,” he added.

The President said he believes in free enterprise and businessmen could come in and invest, and should not worry about contracts as long as they pay the right taxes. 

“I am a lawyer and I believe in free enterprise, I believe in democracy that’s why I ran for President. I’m duty-bound by the Constitution. And about the outsourcing there, I would even guarantee to you that the Philippines would honor its contractual obligations,” he further said.

He then encouraged businessmen to put more money in the Philippines.

The President likewise assured investors that there will be no graft and corruption in his government. 

He vowed to fight red tape in the bureaucracy and told investors to approach members of his Cabinet should they encounter problems.

Also discussed during the forum were moves to amend the present Constitution, with the President saying he is ready to reverse the 60-40 foreign ownership as long as Congress is ready.

“I will go along with it,” he said, stressing however that he would not allow selling of lands to foreigners.

With regard to the Philippines’ hosting of the ASEAN Summit next year, the President said he will particularly focus on spurring economic activity in Mindanao.

“Well, one thing is that we lack the connectivity. We have to have our own BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area). We have to create an economy over there,” he said, adding the reason why the Abu Sayyaf prospered was because of lack of economic activity when the barter trade in the southern region was shut down.

He said the barter trade was good and it provided livelihood to many people, especially the Muslims.

The country’s terrible traffic congestion problem was also discussed and the President expressed his frustrations over the moves of Congress for not acting fast enough to give him special power to tackle the traffic situation.

There’s no movement at all, and he told Filipinos that he is sorry but his government is trying to overcome the challenges.

Mining operations and the appointment of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was also discussed. The President said his office is always receptive to any abuse of authority or if they exceeded the normal limitations of their discretion. He added that he will see to it that everything is fair. 

He insisted that companies must follow the Canadian or Australian mining practices, but said that there will always be a “trade-off” somehow because mining operations affect nature and environment.###PND

President Duterte leaves for Cambodia, Singapore to improve bilateral ties
President Rodrigo Duterte left Tuesday for a back-to-back state visits to Cambodia and Singapore aimed at strengthening relations with the Asian neighbors particularly on trade and security.

“These State Visits will reaffirm our relations with our close neighbors in Southeast Asia and seek to further strengthen our engagement with our brothers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEANs,” the President said in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

In Cambodia, he said it will be an honor for him to meet King Norodom Sihamoni, who invited him to undertake the state visit in his country.

President Duterte will also meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss defense and security, bilateral trade and investments, law enforcement, the war against illegal drugs, the protection of Filipino and Cambodian migrant workers, as well as cultural and tourism cooperation. 

“As the Philippines and Cambodia prepare to commemorate the 60 years of diplomatic relations in 2017, I look forward to conclude the State Visit that will bring our nations and our peoples even closer,” the President added.

After visiting Cambodia, the President will proceed to Singapore to meet President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The top agenda is to ensure that businesses thrive in the region, the President said.

“I will also discuss further increasing the levels of two-way trade and investments with Singapore as I seek to strengthen defense and security cooperation to address traditional and emerging threats that undermine progress,” Duterte said.

Countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization will be the key areas of discussion as well as the war on illegal drugs, he added.

In both state visits, the President is expected to meet with key business leaders to identify mutually beneficial areas of partnership to enhance bilateral trade and investment.

The trips to Cambodia and Singapore are part of the President’s introductory visits as the Philippines gears up to the ASEAN chairmanship in 2017.

“With ASEAN integration, it is important that we harness the economic strengths and complementaries in our region to sustain growth beneficial to all,” he said.

President Duterte will also meet Filipino community during his trip, noting Filipinos who left overseas to work hard and make sacrifices need his earnest attention.

As the year 2016 ends, the President said he is humbled by the opportunities given to him as the country’s leader to advance and protect Philippines’ national interest.

“I shall be singular in my resolve to uphold our independent foreign policy that serves our nation and our people,” he said.###PND