BASILAN — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Sunday, March 3, expressed his love for the people of Basilan, especially the Yakans, who are a major indigenous group in the Sulu archipelago, promising them more projects in the area.
‘I love the people of Basilan. I love you Yakan. I am a Maranao kaya wala man kayo makuha kung patayin ninyo ako. Mawalaan lang kayo ng Moro sa gobyerno, sa totoo lang. Now, I was able to craft ‘yung batas na hinihingi ni Murad. Naibigay na ho namin. At my fervent hope through the help of Allah, we would be able to do something about the Muslims and the Moro on the eastern side,” President Duterte said in his remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Isabela City Gymnasium.
The Chief Executive also renewed his call to the people of Basilan to work together with the government to attain peace in Mindanao.
“I came here to plead for peace. Kasi po nahihirapan kaming makipag-away ng kapwa namin Pilipino. Ayaw ko talaga, sa totoo lang,” he noted.
President Duterte stressed that it would not help the country, particularly the province of Basilan, if the rebellion against the government and the killings would continue.
President Duterte explained to the Yakans his sincere desire to achieve comprehensive peace and progress in Mindanao. That is the goal of the Bangsamoro Organic Law – any development in the area is exclusive for the Bangsamoro people.
He then cited the resumption of the barter trade in Mindanao, which would give the region more ownership in their development. However, he explained that this could only be possible if law and order are well implemented.
“Tandaan niyo ‘to, open na ‘yang barter diyan. Ang problema lang ngayon — noon mas maraming mga bagay-bagay na nandito na wala doon. Ngayon, mas mayaman sila kasi tayo dito sige away, walang makapagnegosyo nang husto. Kayo wala na rin. Wala ng barter, nagalit sa gobyerno, kuha ng baril, ayan nakipag-away,” he said.
“Hindi man nagsabi na takot sila diyan. Inyo ‘yan. Iyong anong makita ninyo dito sa isla ninyo, inyo ‘yan. Kung may gold diyan sa bukid ninyo, inyo ‘yan. Hindi kami makialam. Kung sakali mag-usap tayo, ‘yung mga moderates, ‘wag naman ‘yung namumutol ng…Paano ako makipag-usap… di mo malaman pag-uwi ‘di ka na pauwiin tapos ganunin ka. Mahirap ‘yang ganyan pare,” he added.
“Alam man ninyo na that is un-Islam. That is not the work of a man who believes in Islam. ‘Wag ninyo akong ganunin. Kasi ako, ‘yung lolo ko Chinese, but he embraced Islam. Marami ‘yon siyang itinuro. Ganun lang ‘yun pero he taught me early. Definitely, brutality and cruelty [are] not part of me. It does not make Allah happy,” he continued.
He also encouraged the people of Basilan to talk to the government and raise their concerns, noting that he would arrange a “Basilan Day” in Malacañang to give them an audience and enlighten them regarding the plans of the government for the region.
“O, mag-Basilan Day tayo sa Malacañang. Punta kayo lahat. Totoo. Magsakay kayo ng eroplano, ‘yung cargo, C-130… Yung transport ng military kung gusto mo ‘yon ang pinakamalaki. Makakita kayo ng Malacañang at baka maawa kayo sa akin anong hirap ko para lang na hindi tayo magwatak-watak. I am inviting all of you,” he said.
President Duterte promised the people of Basilan that by December, a hospital for the province would be inaugurated and he would monitor its construction regularly. He also promised that the hospital would hire Moro doctors and nurses once it is done. He also appointed Isabela City Vice Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar to look over the progress of the hospital construction.
“Magbabalik ako ng almost on a regular basis, baka once a month. Tingnan ko lang ‘yung progress ng trabaho o mag- utos ako,” he said.
Apart from the hospital, the President also plans to provide them international airport and train transit.
“May maiwan talaga ako in the last remaining years…meron ang Mindanao. Pinakamalaki ang Mindanao kasi pinakakulang eh. Balang araw, lagyan ko kayo ng international airport, train mahaba masyado ‘yung buntot nandoon na sa Jolo,” he noted.
“Hindi, the train is the fastest. Walang mga lugar na walang train na nag-prosper. Biro mo gama —maliit ‘yang train eh. Karga mo lahat. Wala mang highway na magpilang kotse. Kaya pino-promote namin ‘yang train. Balang araw meron rin kayong train,” he added.
Before the President proceeded to Zamboanga, he called on everyone to continue being the administration’s partner in nation-building. ###PND