President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, April 25, made a heart-to-heart appeal to Muslim Filipinos, stressing that trusting the national leadership is the only hope to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.
“Ngayon, kung wala kayong paniwalaan, wala na talagang pag-asa. If you don’t believe in the national leadership and to think that I’m one of you, o sinong paniwalaan ninyo?” he said in his speech during the launching of the Maguindanao Balik-Baril program.
“‘Di ang last recourse kung hindi tayo magkaintindihan, armas. Anong maibigay niyan sa pamilya mo? Come to think of it. Ma-edukar mo ba ang pamilya mo diyan? Can you educate them using your gun? Can you plant a livelihood, gamitin mo ‘yan?” he further said.
During the event, the Chief Executive viewed 900 loose firearms that were displayed at the Buluan Municipal Gymnasium in Buluan, Maguindanao.
The weapons, which are from various towns in Maguindanao, were surrendered in exchange of livelihood assistance, scholarship grants, and weaving tools.
President Duterte underscored that weapons should not be used to wage war against one’s own country.
“But you know, it is a fundamental rule na kung may armas tayo, pang-depensa lang. It is not to wage war against your own country. Sapagkat isa lang ‘to. Wala naman tayong mapuntahan kung mag-ubusan tayo dito,” he said.
During his speech, Duterte announced that he is willing to declare Mindanao as a land reform area.
“I am willing na ‘pag transition o wala pa, I will declare the whole of Mindanao a land reform area. Lahat ibigay ko, pati ‘yung lupa ng gobyerno,” he said, noting that rubber or palm oil could be grown in the farms.
“Hanapin ninyo ‘yung lupa ng gobyerno o ‘yung mga kampo ng military, ‘pag nagkaroon tayo ng kapayapaan, inyo na ‘yan,” he said.
For his part, the President said he would provide tractor and seedlings.
With regard to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Chief Executive promised that the measure would get the green light before May ends.
“At ako, nangangako ako na before May, lulusot ‘yan after — before the end of May, lulusot na ‘yan,” he said.
At the same time, he expressed hopes that the peace talks with the rebels would be successful as well.
“I’m trying to talk to the NPAs. Baka — well, by the grace of Allah baka ma-successful din. ‘Pag mawala ito, iimprove ang Mindanao. Sabihin ko sa’yo, I will be fair in the distribution of the taxes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President discussed his openness to accept criticisms from Filipinos.
“Okay lang sa akin. You know why? Kayo ang nagbabayad sa sweldo ko. Kayo ‘yung amo ko,” he said.
“So kung magalit kayo sa akin for incompetence o walang nagawa, karapat-dapat lang kasi kayo nagbayad ng sweldo. For Filipino citizen,” he added.
However, the President said he will never agree to take criticisms from foreign nationals.
“But I will never, never agree itong mga puti tapos magpunta dito, murahin,” he said.
“Pero ‘yung foreigner magpunta dito ‘yung mga pari pati… hindi ‘yan pwede ganun na hindi ka naman Pilipino, hindi ka naman nakabayad sweldo ko, bakit ganunin mo ako?” he noted.
Duterte concluded his speech by highlighting his intention to keep his promises.
“I made promises, I intend to keep it. Sigurado ‘yan,” he said. PND