By Jelly Musico
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has expressed willingness to walk an extra mile to achieve peace in the land by continuously reaching out to the enemies of the state.
The President made this promise in two occasions on Tuesday as he led the nation in celebrating its 120th Independence Day from Spanish rule.
Duterte first travelled to Kawit, Cavite to lead the morning’s flag-raising ceremony and then delivered a speech interrupted by a group of protesters who repeatedly shouted "fake freedom". “I will walk (an) extra mile to have peace in our land,” Duterte said in front of a big crowd who braved the monsoon rains.
Later in the day, Duterte went to Pampanga for the oath-taking of the newly-elected village leaders in Region III and assured the local leaders of his willingness to talk peace with the communist and Moro rebels.
“I am not a soldier, I am not a policeman. I am a government worker elected by the people to search the elusive peace for our nation,” he said. Duterte repeated his invitation to Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) founding leader Ma. Jose Sison to come home and talk peace within 60 days.
“I will talk to the enemies of the state in search of peace and that is why I have invited Sison to come home peacefully, and I will guarantee his personal safety and security” he said. The popular Filipino leader, however, said if the peace talks fail, he will escort Sison out of the country.
“Should the peace talks prevail, then we would be lucky and I would thank God for it. But if not, I said, I will personally escort him to the airport and I will see to it that he will fly out alive,” Duterte said.
“Now as to he’s coming back, that’s out of the question because he is facing charges,” he added.
Duterte said he is also building peace with Moro rebels particularly with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari.
“I’m talking to Murad, the BBL. Then to Nur Misuari. Nur Misuari, maybe he realizes that at the end of the day, on our sunset days, we need to push for peace,” Duterte said. He said government and the enemies of the states cannot fight forever, stressing that he is not a wartime President.
“I have no business going to war against my own people. I told them, let’s talk. Violence is one thing that I must avoid at all cost,” the President said.
Duterte is hoping that the two houses of Congress – Senate and House of Representatives - will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Though the heroes of the past had liberated the nation from “foreign subjugation,” Duterte said the Filipinos are still facing modern challenges such as poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality, and illegal drugs.
“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,” Duterte said.
Duterte vowed to pursue his fight against corruption and illegal drugs as well as criminality and terrorism. (PNA)