PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s 15-minute inaugural address was presidential, purposeful and persuasive, one senator said, while another described it as simple, brief and understandable.
“We all know it won’t be easy and we should unite as a nation behind these lofty goals,” said Senator Ralph Recto.
“Like a great woman’s dress, it was long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting. It proved that brevity need not be junked to accommodate a host of bold statements,” he added.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who said the address was simple and brief, said the message from Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, who was sworn in at a separate ceremony earlier in the day, were both relevant as they called for unity against corruption and poverty. He added that it was a good start for the two highest officials of the land.
Recto said he believed the address covered the breadth of things he initially wanted to do, balancing audacity with guarantees that his administration wouldn’t go overboard in pursuing them.
“He will go hard after criminals but not at the expense of killing the rule of law. He will comfort the afflicted but not by impoverishing the already comfortable. He will help laborers but will not harm capital in the process,” Recto said.
He noted that Duterte’s pronouncements struck the right mix of being bold but responsible. He said they were courageous and comforting at the same time.
Senators Loren Legarda and Nancy Binay expressed their full support for Duterte.
Legarda said she acknowledged the issues that the President raised in his inaugural speech, such as the need to restore people’s faith and trust in government, and vowed to work with the administration to address these matters.
“President Duterte hit the nail right on the head. I agree with all that he said especially to cut bureaucracy and remove redundancy because the role of government is to uplift the people, not to burden them. I will fully support him as he has a huge mandate and the political will to get things done,” she said.
Legarda also said that she agreed with Duterte when he said that for change to be permanent and significant, it must start with each and every citizen.
She also hailed the President’s pronouncement on inclusivity to ensure that the Moros and indigenous peoples are part of the peace process and overall development of the country.
“We can see the sincerity in the President’s words, the single-mindedness of a true leader, the political will to bring a government that truly serves the people with passion, vision, and compassion. I am very optimistic that we can fully push for inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth under the new administration as the President himself embraces these concepts and reaches out to all sectors of society,” Legarda added.
Binay congratulated Duterte and Robredo, and said she looked forward to working with the new administration.
“As a legislator, I will fully support legislation that the administration needs in order to realize its plans for genuine change,” she said.
“I am one with the good goals of our new President particularly in supporting the fight against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption in our government,” she said.
Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats president Martin Romualdez on Thursday rallied to Duterte’s call for unity.
Romualdez, former head of the House independent minority bloc, said Duterte deserves the support of the Filipino people in his quest to fortify the faith or win back the trust of Filipinos in government.
“It was a great, impressive, concise and direct-to-the-point speech,” Romualdez said.
“He is committed to carry genuine change. The public, Congress and CHR [Commission on Human Rights] should give him full support in his fight against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption in light of his commitment to respect the rule of law,” Romualdez said.
Reps. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City, and Jerry Trenas of Iloilo City said Duterte was right in his advocacy to restore the Filipinos’ eroding faith and trust in government.
“President Duterte delivered a powerful and inspirational speech. Calling us to join his crusade to fight crime and corruption and push genuine reforms,” Sy-Alvarado, a member of the National Unity Party (NUP), said.
Nograles, a stalwart of NUP, shared a similar view.
“The speech was direct to the point. President Duterte’s speech is a glimpse of what we should expect from his administration: straightforward, unembellished [and] unpretentious.”
“It summarizes his policy against crime and corruption, on foreign policy and on the peace process. It is short but powerful in inspiring our people to unite and bring their faith back to the government. It is a reminder that change is coming and change starts today,” Nograles said.
Trenas, a member of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan said: “President Duterte’s reassurance that his administration is committed to honor ongoing government contracts and international treaties is a positive indication that his government is indeed a government of the people and by the people.”
“It erases all uncertainties on how business will be conducted under his administration. It is an assurance that of our gains will be sustained and nurtured and not destroyed due to partisanship. We are ready to answer his call for unity and brotherhood,” he added.
In laying down the framework for his government, Duterte quoted two US presidents—Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Ramon Casiple, executive director of Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said the public would accept Duterte’s promises as his framework would address the problems of the weak and the poor.
“The public will definitely give Duterte the benefit of the doubt and make his US-inspired framework work because he has proven to be consistent in his pronouncements. He has the mandate after all,” Casiple said.
Antonio La Viña, dean of Ateneo School of Government described Duterte’s speech as “great.”
“I have to say this was a great speech, one of the best I have heard. The language is good, plain, straight to the point, consistent with his advocacies, but this time there is reassurance about knowing his limits. Duterte is off to a good start. I like especially his call for unity,” La Viña said.
“There are two quotations from revered figures that shall serve as the foundation upon which this administration shall be built. ‘The test of government is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have little.’—Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Duterte said.
“And from [Abraham] Lincoln I draw this expression: ‘You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; You cannot help the poor by discouraging the rich; You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer; You cannot further brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men.’”
“My economic and financial, political policies are contained in those quotations, though couched in general terms. Read between the lines. I need not go into specifics now. They shall be supplied to you in due time,” Duterte declared.
Casiple said Duterte’s framework was “actionable.”
He said Duterte has, in fact, already given the signs that he would impose change based on his previous pronouncements and campaign speeches.
Casiple said just like the two US presidents, Duterte should be ready to face his detractors.
He said that when Roosevelt said his line, he was accused of being a socialist and that when Lincoln delivered his speech, he was on the brink of waging a civil war.
Casiple said Duterte has started to make the government run by elite irrelevant.
“We have seen how the administration candidate’s platform had been rejected by the electorate. Duterte won by a landslide and majority who voted for him were the poor,” said Casiple, referring to the Aquino administration’s campaign platform Daang Matuwid, which carried Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II to his defeat.
Part of the death of the elite democracy was Duterte’s inclusion of progressives and the militant left in his Cabinet and the revival of peace talks with the communists, Casiple added.
Casiple described Duterte’s speech as presidential.
“For the first time, he did not mouth curses,” Casiple said. “He promised that as soon as he assumed power, he will no longer throw invectives. And he did not,” Casiple said.
“Let’s see what he will do. The public would definitely cut Duterte some slack in the first 100 days of his administration. The people would be willing to give him constructive criticism,” Casiple added.
The chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, Chito Gascon, welecomed Duterte’s assurance that he would adhere to the rule of law in the performance of his duties to go after criminality, drugs and corruption.
“The Commission on Human Rights congratulates President Duterte on his inauguration to high office and wish him much success in pursuing his mandate. We are heartened by his affirmation to adhere to due process and the rule of law in addressing the many issues he will face during his incumbency,” Gascon’s official statement read.
“Such is all we hope and expect as this proceeds from the solemn oath he took today. The Commission on Human Rights looks forward to engaging with his administration on human rights as we each must do what we must.”
In his inaugural speech, Duterte told Congress and the CHR to mind their work and let them mind his.
Asked about this statement, public information officer Joel Sarmenta, in a text message, said “The CHR does. The CHR never did anything out of its scope.” – With Rio N. Araja
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