Duterte's speech 'shows commitment to peace'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte showed the people that he is committed to achieving peace across the nation.

This was the assessment of Rappler's 3 panelists, all hailing from Mindanao, of Duterte's inaugural speech on Thursday, June 30.

"I thought it quieted people's fears about the class wars. When he said 'I have no friends to serve, [I have no enemies to harm],' that was a long recital of 'I'm not going to develop [the country] by putting down anybody,'" said Mindanao Commission on Women chief executive officer Irene Santiago. 

In his speech, Duterte again emphasized his call for change as well as his promise to suppress drugs and criminality within 3 to 6 months. (FULL TEXT: President Rodrigo Duterte's inaugural speech)

But he also said his administration will not divide the nation, quoting former United States president Abraham Lincoln: "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong… You cannot further the brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men."

For Santiago, Duterte's inaugural message is that "when Mindanao is strong, the Philippine is strong." 

"That's the message of this presidency. It's that you cannot build a nation if you leave anybody or any region behind. I think that was the commitment there," said Santiago.

Duterte's agenda for "inclusive" peace and order includes discussions with rebels such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), groups with whom he has developed a relationship throughout his years as Davao City mayor.

The President's emissaries already flew to Oslo, Norway before his inauguration to meet with Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the NDF, and Luis Jalandoni, NDF chairperson.

Singer-songwriter Joey Ayala, who is a native of Bukidnon, said it is Duterte's "authenticity" that will make him an effective President as much as he was as local chief executive. 

"Mahusay siya sa Davao (He was excellent in Davao). He's creative. It's very clear. And he has shown he can do it," said Ayala. 

"Matatauhan ka kay President Duterte (You will come to your senses with President Duterte). You will be possessed by [his] spirit of humanity… He will awaken you to your reality. That's what good leaders do," Ayala added.

The peace process and mining

According to Ateneo de Davao University president Fr Joel Tabora, SJ, there are "high expectations" that Duterte would be able to bring peace, especially in conflict-stricken areas in Mindanao.

"The perception is that President Duterte understands the Muslim situation and has contacts both with the MILF and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and other groups. He claims also to have Muslim blood. So there's high expectations that he shall be able to address this problem with success," said Tabora.

According to Tabora, some of the rebel groups' grievances involve the issue of mining. 

"The activities of the CPP-NPA here [have] to do a lot with mining because the mining investments impinge on the indigenous peoples of Mindanao," he said. 

Tabora said Duterte's appointment of anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez as Department of Environment and National Resources secretary may possibly cause "less conflict" with the indigenous peoples and, consequently, the rebels. 

Duterte, however, also said he would allow "responsible" mining.

"Well, we're gonna have to hope for clear policies and we're gonna have to hope for harmony between the President's statement and Gina Lopez's position. In the end, those two positions have to be harmonized," said Tabora. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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