Duterte bares plans 'if' he runs for president

MANILA, Philippines – What will Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s prioritize in his platform if he chooses to run for president in 2016?

Duterte gave a glimpse of his top priorities as he spoke to top financial minds of the Bankers Institute of the Philippines on Tuesday, August 11.

The 70-year-old mayor confessed that the problems facing the country were the reason why he has not yet decided to run for higher office.

“When I finally say I will run, I should be ready to assume full responsibility and not blame others for the mess I knew full well I would inherit,” Duterte explained.

He had been consistently rejecting the idea of running for president, claiming his age, financial status and his family hinder him from announcing his bid for the highest office of the land.

But the mayor, “for the sake of argument,” explained the changes he will make “if this unworthy Bisaya…should lead beyond the confines of Davao.”

Boosting the economy

With government funds directed to the right channels, Duterte said he will propose a partnership with the private sector to help keep the prices of food stable.

“It is likewise unthinkable that in a country surrounded by water, fish is unaffordable to the poorest of our poor. And vegetables are priced so high that the diet of the poor is simply rice and more rice,” Duterte explained why having food security must be a major priority.

The mayor said the government should spend on agricultural research to help farmers produce more at a lesser cost.

Given the geographic advantages of Mindanao, its fertile plains and abundant water sources – if adequately developed – can feed Luzon and Visayas, according to Duterte.

Duterte lamented the current status of farmers who benefited from agrarian reform.

“Kasi ngayon, pagkatapos na binigyan mo ng 2 hectares ang landless, bahala na siya sa buhay niya,” Duterte said. (With the way things are now, the government does not care about the landless after giving them 2 hectares of land.) 

He explained that there should be a more proactive approach to provide with incentives the private sector’s corporate social responsibility. This will help farmers manage their lands.

The next administration should also tap the idle manpower in the countryside to build roads and dig irrigation canals to boost the income of the poorest.

On the business side

Davao City prides itself with the 72-hour-limit for acquiring business permits, such that failure on the part of the local government to do so would merit having to directly explain to the mayor himself reasons for such.

Duterte said the government should let businesses flourish “by making it easy to do business”, with government providing “utmost transparency and accountability.”

In terms of laws, he said he plans to prioritize the Freedom of Information bill if he runs and wins in 2016.

In addition, he would also prioritize effective public transportation such as trains, railways and the renovation of airports.

Duterte recounted an agreement he made with businessmen when he first won as Davao City’s mayor in 1988: he will take care of the peace and order, as well as provide for the basic services, while the business group will take care of the business sector and invite more investors into the city.

He added that these improvements should have all been done decades ago but refrained from blaming others.

“You are business executives. You cannot go to your board of directors each time and say you did not meet your targets because of the mess you inherited when you assumed your positions. You should know what you are getting into. If you can’t hack it, be honest… don’t seek the office,” he said.

Law and order

The tough-talking mayor who claimed to have transformed Davao into one of the safest cities in the world, said he will make sure that “criminals are afraid of the law.”

Aside from increasing the salaries of the police, Duterte proposed to repeal laws that have become a refuge for criminals.

He plans to revoke the juvenile delinquency law, “which syndicates have used to train young kids to commit crime, protected by the mantle of impunity due to young age.”

He also pledged to re-impose the death penalty for heinous crimes, such as drug-trafficking and drug-dealing.

“But over and above legislation, we will make sure that crime does not pay; that swift justice awaits those who would commit heinous crimes,” Duterte said.

Shifting to federalism

Consistent with past efforts, conducting “listening tours” around the country to give a face to the idea of federalism as an alternative to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Duterte declared, “I will within the first year in office, call for a Constitutional Convention to effect change in our form and structure of government. We must change the present highly-centralized, unitary system into a federal system.”

The mayor had been pushing for a shift to a federal system to address inherent issues in corrupt practices in governance. Duterte said he would abolish Congress and the pork barrel system.

He claimed that federalism would provide “a lasting solution to the demands of our Muslim brothers and other cultural minorities for a recognition of their historical and indigenous rights to a multi-cultural community united under one flag and one nation.”

Duterte had previously said he supported the BBL but expressed concerns over some of its provisions. He claims that federalism is a better solution to the conflict in Mindanao.

On leadership

Duterte also said that a leader must be a “strict taskmaster” who should replace inefficient cabinet members or heads of agencies who, if involved in corruption allegations, should face prosecution.

“It should not take a leader months of agonizing to choose a PNP chief, or to replace a jail warden who allows drug lords to continue with their deadly trade inside prison, abetted with luxurious lifestyles at that. It should take no more than 24 hours,” Duterte added, clearly alluding to President Benigno Aquino III. – Rappler.com