President Rodrigo Duterte met protesters staging mass action outside the Batasang Pambansa Complex after he delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24.
In his brief remarks, President Duterte asked for more time to resolve issues and conflicts involving the communist groups including peace talks.
“Tanungin muna ninyo kung anong ginagawa ko. Hindi na lang kayo basta— inaapura ninyo ako eh. Huwag ninyo akong… You know, I cannot control everything,” Duterte said facing thousands of demonstrators belonging to various leftist groups in the country.
The President admitted that he was dismayed by the attacks of the New People’s Army (NPA) on security forces, including the ambush of his presidential guards last week in North Cotabato, that led him to stop the peace talks.
“Ginagawa ko na magawa ko. Eh pati ‘yung convoy ko inambush (ambush). Pati ako gusto patayin. ‘Di sinong kausapin niyo?… Tapos pag-uwi ko, maglipad ako ng Marawi, ambushin (ambush) ninyo ako. ‘Yan ang mahirap. Mag-usap muna tayo nang matino,” he said.
He stressed that he would not resume the peace talks until the communist rebels show sincerity in forging peace with government.
With regard to martial law in Mindanao, he explained that the imposition is only temporary to be able to address security issues there.
The leftist groups were urging the President to lift the martial law in Mindanao.
“‘Yung martial law, may tatapusin lang ako para sa lahat. Hindi ‘yan forever. Maghintay lang kayo. Iilan na lang ang nandiyan na may kasalanan,” he said.
He noted that the military is delaying their assault in Marawi because the terrorists are still holding at least 300 hostages.
The President asked the protesters to give him more time and his one year in presidency is not enough to address their demands.
He reiterated his promise for land reform saying that he has remained committed to it as he has tasked Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, who is also a leftist, to address the matter.
“Hindi ako may-ari ng pera ng Pilipinas, ang tao. Ginagawa ko lang talaga ang paraan para maligayahan ang lahat, para kayo. Para sa tao. Kung nakinig kayo sa speech, hindi ako Presidente para sa mga mayaman,” he said.
He likewise asked the protesters to talk to other officials in his Cabinet namely Liza Maza, Judy Taguiwalo and Leonor Briones to understand how he has been addressing the issues relevant to the left.
“Five years lang naman naiwan ko. Sasabihin ko sa iyo, I will deliver. Naintindihan ninyo? I will deliver,” he said. ###PND