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Lech Walesa in town, meets Duterte

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Former Polish President Lech Walesa arrives on May 21, 2017 for the screening of the film 'The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)' at the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHE

By Arjay L. Balinbin

NOBEL Prize laureate and Poland’s former president Lech Walesa said he advised President Rodrigo R. Duterte during their meeting at the Palace on Tuesday, Jan. 23, “to talk and listen to the people.”

“I told him to talk to the people, to listen to them, and to tell them what he does,” Mr. Walesa said at a forum at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

The Palace said in a press release that, during his meeting with Mr. Walesa, Mr. Duterte “recognized Walesa’s role as a labor leader in his country and eventually as Poland’s president.”

At the forum, Mr. Walesa encouraged the youth to bring corrections to the mistakes of current world leaders.

“Young generation has to bring corrections to what we have today. Look at what is happening in the US….Trump’s election,” he said.

He also said that currently there is no need for a revolution to happen, saying “it is the time for intellectual dialogues, globalization, and a period of great chances.”

Mr. Walesa highlighted “freedom” as an essential foundation in “building a great country.”

“There must be freedom to organize, free trade and not much government control,” he said, adding: “Ten percent of the world (have) the goods and the money of the whole world, let them have it even the 10%. We have to do something with it. If those who have it do not understand it, we have a danger of revolution. But if we use this money to produce jobs, then everybody will be satisfied.”

Mr. Walesa, who served as Poland’s president from 1990 to 1995, founded the Solidarnosc (Solidarity) free trade union, which helped end communist rule in Poland. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his campaign for freedom of organization in his country.

The forum was organized by the UA&P and the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR).

According to Malacañang, the Philippines and Poland celebrate 45 years of their diplomatic relations.

Poland opened its chancery in Manila in 1993 but closed it in 1994, and it once again opened its Embassy in the Philippines last Jan. 4 after deploying its charge d’affaires.

“It will officially announce the Embassy’s opening once a location is selected and an ambassador is designated,” the Palace said.

Among those who attended Wednesday’s forum were former speaker of the House of Representatives Jose C. de Venecia Jr., former national security adviser Roilo A. Golez, former interior secretary Rafael M. Alunan III who now serves as president of the First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corp., Antonio Kalaw, Jr. of the Development Academy of the Philippines, and retired police director Vidal Querol.