By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
A GROUP of protesters heckled President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Kawit, Cavite, where he led the 120th commemoration of Philippine independence on Tuesday, June 12.
The mood among demonstrators was upbeat, amid the drizzle and cloudy weather as Mr. Duterte began his speech at the historic house of Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first president.
The protesters chanted, “Duterte, traydor (Duterte, traitor)! Hunyo dose, huwad na kalayaan (June 12, fake freedom)! Duterte, patalsikin (Oust Duterte)!”
Hayaan mo lang (Let it be). It’s a freedom of speech. You can have it. Okay lang (It’s okay),” the President said when he was about to start his speech at the balcony of the Museo de Emilio Aguinaldo.
As voices from the protesters were getting louder, Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin C. Remulla was seen whispering to the President.
Responding to the governor, the President said, “Di bale, manonood ako (Never mind, I’ll watch).”
He then waived at the crowd and ordered the police and security “to just deal with them peacefully and with maximum tolerance.”
“We cannot agree at all times for all seasons. But at least we have this exercise once every six years, I suppose, under this new Constitution and you can elect the leaders that you want to run the country…. We may not understand each other but at least there is a common denominator and that is love of country,” the President also said.
In his speech, he said the Philippines has been facing “modern challenges of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality and illegal drugs.” It is his “personal mission to rid [the] nation of these ills,” he added.
“But I cannot do it alone. At this crucial juncture in our history, we need to draw strength from the lessons of our past to ensure that these ills do not cause any more damage to our future,” he added.
Riffing on his speech, the President asked his Caviteño audience to visit his hometown, Davao City.
“I want you to go to Davao City…. Everything [there] is really done according to the book. Environmentally we’re quite more or less — we can pass the satisfactory level. In terms of law and order, you can walk about anytime of the day or night,” he said.
“We have a mixed crowd there: Muslim, Christians, Lumads and all. All tribes. There’s a big community of Caviteños in the City of Davao. And if they happen to sojourn here, ask them… It is not extraordinary, but unlike the others, talagang ‘yung wala ng disiplina (others do not observe discipline)….”
He also raised the topic of peace negotiations with rebel groups.
“I’m inviting the Reds to… Ito, itong mga nagsigaw (These people who are shouting). Kaya mahal ko ito sila (That is why I love them). Then choose a camp where you can stay there and I will contribute to your subsistence for the 60 days…. If it succeeds, then my only problem would be the rebellion in Mindanao,” he said.
He also cited talks with Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front as well as the truce with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “Yung Bangsamoro (Basic Law) is in Congress. I hope it will pass. If it does not, then there’s gonna be another round of ruckus there. I hope it would not again result (in) a near revolutionary environment,” Mr. Duterte said.
He also said, “Eh ‘yung sinundan ko dito (the one I succeeded), the great Aguinaldo, is gone. But still we are struggling. Ang masama dito, ang kalaban mo Pilipino. Hindi naman sana kung mag-away tayo ng prinsipyo, okay lang.” (What’s wrong about this is that your enemy is also Filipino. If we’re opposed as a matter of principle, that’s okay.)