Speaking before the soldiers at a military camp in Barangay Busbus in Jolo, Sulu, President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that he is a “president for peace” and not a “despot” as perceived by several of his oppositions.
The President made the statement during his visit at Camp Teodulfo Bautista where he was accompanied by some of his Cabinet officials and American martial arts actor and producer Steven Seagal.
“I am a president for peace. I am not an authoritarian, aristocratic na, (not) a despot. Hindi ho yan. Tayo may limitado sa Constitution. At ikaw at ako, you know, we swore to protect the people and defend the Republic in its integrity and territorial bounds,” Duterte said on Friday.
Duterte stressed that, while receiving numerous criticisms, he hoped that people would not misinterpret his quest for peace.
“We would like to seek peace. Wag sana kayong mag-misinterpret sa aking mga diskarte” he added.
The President, during his speech, also bellowed at the communist fighters for the failure of the peace negotiations due to their ongoing attacks against the government despite calls for a ceasefire.
“I’ve been trying to fix this thing for 50 years, so you want another 50 years war? Sabi ko ‘ayun ang gusto niyo’, sabi ko ‘ayaw ko’, pero ayan ang gusto niyo, wala akong magagawa. I’ll just to react on what is your behavior,” Duterte said.
According to the President, he is not to blame for the termination of the peace talks with the Reds which he considers a waste. Duterte added that he and other preceding presidents tried to end the five-decade war with the rebel attackers but ultimately failed.
“This has been a long, almost 50 years of talking for nothing. So many presidents tried it, I did. Pero sabi ko, wag mo sabihin balang araw na I did not try to reach to them.”
Duterte added that it was under his administration that granted the release of several political prisoners in a bid to join the peace efforts of the government.
“I was the first to do it by releasing political prisoners and conceded to the communist too much, too soon.”