Filipinos in Kuwait hail first address of Duterte – New president plans to improve services for OFWs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) gestures as he delivers his State of the Nation Address at Congress in Manila on July 25, 2016. Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels who are waging one of Asia's longest insurgencies, and urged them to reciprocate. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) gestures as he delivers his State of the Nation Address at Congress in Manila on July 25, 2016.
Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels who are waging one of Asia’s longest insurgencies, and urged them to reciprocate. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, and Filipinos in Kuwait applauded his three-week old government. Many Filipinos here are satisfied with the performance and quick actions under Duterte’s watch, especially on issues related to drugs and corruption. Duterte vowed to show ‘no mercy’ in his bloody war on crime, warning criminals that priests and human rights advocates cannot protect them from being killed.

A defiant Duterte devoted a large chunk of his inaugural ‘State of the Nation’ address to his law and order campaign, which has claimed hundreds of lives since he took office on June 30. Duterte said the crackdown on illegal drugs won’t stop until the last drug lord is punished. At least 130,000 drug addicts have surrendered and almost 300 killed by authorities since he assumed the presidency on July 1, 2016.

“There will be no let-up in this campaign. Double your efforts, triple them, if needed. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground if they wish so,” the president said. Duterte, who promised to suppress crime and drugs within six months, said he is ready to kill anyone who destroys the youth and the country with illegal drugs. He also vowed to wage a “bloody” and “ruthless” campaign against the narcotics trade, alarming human rights advocates who are worried that it could lead to extralegal killings.

Very proud
“Of course I am really proud of my president! He knows how to manage the country. He is brilliant at it and has shown it to us since day one, when he decided to run as president of the country,” Lea, a 35-year old Pinay saleslady, told Kuwait Times. Filipinos in Kuwait are also happy on how the Duterte government is planning to ease traffic congestions in Metro Manila. He said that he will be adding more mass transport means including a bullet train to make sure that the daily suffering of commuters will be addressed soon.

“I like his promises to ease the traffic in Metro Manila by constructing more mass-transport systems. I like the bullet train plan from Subic to Manila – we really need to have it,” said Rina, a Filipino teacher. Duterte also urged the 17th Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without provisions deemed to violate the constitution. “The only way forward is to give the BBL, minus the illegal provisions under the constitution,” he said.

“I like him as my president because he never forgets people from Mindanao, the Muslim people and his roots. He said that he has the blood of Mindanao and so his heart goes to every one of us with very less opportunities in Mindanao. I liked the start of his speech, that we cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. These are amazing and inspiring words for everyone, although I know he is trying to indirectly refer to Aquino, the former president,” said Melvin, from Luzon.

Improved services
Duterte ordered DOLE Sec Silvestre Bello to hasten the plan to improve services for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and plan to create a separate department dealing only with OFWs. Duterte said that the government is looking to help OFWs become financially literate by implementing “mandatory financial education for all migrants”. One of the chronic problems that beset Filipino workers, particularly in the Middle East, is running into huge debts.

The president also said that he will ask Congress to have a bill approved to create a national department for OFWs. “I think the plan for OFWs is really unique. We always wanted a president who heard the cries of people, and not someone with no empathy towards the people and the need of his constituency,” a Filipina worker said. Duterte, 71, won the May election in a landslide after promising to quickly eradicate crime by unleashing security forces with shoot-to-kill orders, and vowing that tens of thousands of people would die.

Meanwhile in the SONA, Duterte also announced a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels waging one of Asia’s longest insurgencies, saying it is his “dream” to end the rebellion. “To immediately stop violence on the ground and restore peace in the communities … I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire,” Duterte told lawmakers. “We will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal and my dream.”

By Ben Garcia


This article was published on 25/07/2016