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Monday, July 25, 2016

President Duterte assures better days ahead for Basilan

by Rene V. Carbayas
ISABELA CITY, Basilan – President Rodrigo R. Duterte assured the people of Basilan that a better future is in store under his administration.

“Ayoko ng away, gusto ko mag-usap lang (I don’t like quarrel, let’s talk) and to see a very prosperous Basilan,” the President said speaking before men and women of the Armed Forces, Philippine National Police, and other sectors present during his visit at the 104th Infantry Brigade base in Barangay Tabiawan, this city.

Amidst the ongoing military operations versus the Abu Sayyaf in the hinterlands of Tipo-Tipo, south of Basilan, the President called on the people not to nurture and even entertain hatred.

Hatred, he said fueled some people to sow terror and commit crimes, like what the Abu Sayyafs are doing.

“Ako ay nakiki-usap sa lahat (I am appealing to everyone), I am pleading for peace pati sa mga Abu Sayyaf (even to the Abu Sayyaf). You have committed so many crimes, killing people unnecessarily,” he said, adding that government troops will continue to be deployed in Basilan because of kidnapping and killing.

While at the brigade, the President met with different sectors on three occasions. Upon disembarkation from the Presidential chopper, he immediately met with officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in a closed-door meeting. After about an hour, the President met with the people, soldiers, and the police in a courtyard where he delivered a message. He sometimes broke protocol and mingled with the crowd who were eager to grab a photo with the President.

After the photo opportunity of some groups with the President, the ceremonial distribution of food packs was conducted to some 150 persons displaced by the ongoing conflict in Tipo-Tipo and nearby towns. The President personally handed the food packs, hugging some one of them as they received the goods.

In one of his conversations with IDPs, the President assured them of government’s help to rebuild their homes as soon as the military operation is concluded.

President Duterte also commended the security forces of the government for a job well done in quelling a rebellion. “But you must remember that they’re our brothers and sisters. Do not nurture hate. Trabaho lang ‘yan,” reminded the commander-in-chief.

“Sa mga kapatid kong Moro, kasi alam ko na napabayaan kayo. Alam ko ‘yan. At alam ko na-oppress kayo. (To our Moro siblings, I know you were neglected. I know that. And I know that you were oppressed). That is why we’re having these talks, baka magkaroon tayo ng federalism, ‘yan ang hinihingi ng mga leader ninyo (We might consider federalism, that is what your leaders are asking),” he said.

However, the President stressed that there is a law and that government has to maintain the Republic, “because to secede… hindi pwede ‘yan,” the President remarked when he brought up the topic of federalism.

Lastly, he met with the local chief executives (LCEs) in a closed-door meeting. An official revealed that the President’s meeting with LCEs centered on the national government’s assurance that more help in terms of programs and projects will be poured in Basilan.