Davao City, Jan. 6 – A very Presidential Rodrigo Roa Duterte today told his leaders from all over the country gathered here for a two-day pre-campaign conference that their work and sacrifices are “investments in the future of your children.”
Departing from his usual cuss-filled public statements, Duterte promised the more than 150 leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, including his Vice Presidential running mate Alan Peter Cayetano, that he will use the full powers of the Presidency to stop graft and corruption, crime and drugs in the first six months of his six-year term.
“If you work for me, you are investing in the future of your children. Whatever I am telling you now, I will really do,” he told his supporters at the end of the two-day campaign leaders meeting at the Grand Regal Hotel here.
Duterte, however, warned his leaders that the Presidency is a long shot since his campaign does not have the traditional political machinery and that he has set the rule that he will not receive money from people or companies who do business with government.
“If I compromise myself, I’d rather not be President. Ayaw ko ng may utang ako. The presidency is not mine to give,” he said.
Saying that crime, drugs and corruption and the lack of infrastructure facilities contribute to the worsening poverty of Filipinos, Duterte said he could promise the nation that change would be felt in the first six months of his Presidency.
“I can hack it if I have the support of the military and the police. I will use them against criminality and the drug problem. Corruption? I can stop it. The key word is Stop,” he said.
“The lifestyle of everybody in government will be affected. BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and Customs (officials) whose salaries are a pittance compared their income from corruption will be the first to complain. I expect them to complain that I am strict and an authoritarian but we have to stop corruption,” he said.
Duterte related that in Davao City, City Hall processes business papers and permits within 72 hours and the same thing could be done in national government offices.
“We reduce the number of signatories from 14 to 15 now to only 5 or 6 and the processing period from 40 to 60 days now to only 12 days,” Duterte said.
“Agents of drugs are already parlaying in the rural areas accepting chicken and hogs as payment for the drugs. The tragedy of it all is that this administration never really addressed the problem squarely. The drug problem is getting serious everyday. It is cutting across all dimensions of society,” Duterte said adding that a whole generation of Filipinos now is threatened by drug addiction.
He said the revolutionary movements like the New People’s Army, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be addressed immediately but that it would take two to three years before he could come up with an arrangement that would be acceptable to the different groups.
“I don’t know the full dimension of what they want to happen. But I am willing to talk to them,” Duterte said referring to the Communist insurgeents who have been waging a 40-year rebellion against government.
Duterte said he believes that a peaceful settlement with the Communist rebels will end the forced taxation imposed by the NPAs on businessmen and even professionals and farmers especially in Mindanao.
“I will enforce law and order, build roads and infrastructures. build farm to market roads since we are an agricultural country. We will make food available and affordable for all Filipinos,” he said.
“I cannot promise you more than that. Hindi ako papasok ng alanganin. I will stop corruption, criminality and drugs and start building the nation again,” Duterte said.
While he admitted that the limited funds for his Presidential campaign would affect his chances of winning, he said he leaves his and the Filipino people’s fate to God.
“This is a matter of destiny. If God wants me to be President, I will arrive at Malacañang,” Duterte told his leaders.
After the conference, Duterte and Cayetano flew to Cebu City for a town hall meeting and a MAD for Change Concert tomorrow.