MANILA (PNA) – A Palace official on Wednesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte is not merely focused on his campaign against illegal drugs but on the country’s overall development.
Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary Jonas George Soriano, in a press briefing in Malacañang, said there are other things that the Duterte administration is focused on but which the public does not see.
“He (Duterte) is doing a lot people don’t see. Because what he does is, especially during the meetings that most of us don’t see, (he) gives a lot of directives,” Soriano said.
Soriano said that while the public is seeing the administration’s actions to rid the country of illegal drugs, President Duterte is also concerned about other national issues such as eliminating red tape in government and agriculture, among others.
“We only have six years. If we need to do a change, we do it now,” Soriano said.
In terms of poverty alleviation, for example, Soriano said the Duterte administration is closely working with the local government units (LGUs) to reduce poverty incidence.
“In the end, it cannot always be national. So even if we’re up here and do this, the impact will not be as great. Not unless, one, we synergize horizontally but we work very closely and synergize also vertically,” he said.
Soriano, meanwhile, said the Duterte administration has initiatives to rid the poor from being victimized by illegal drugs.
He said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has the “Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Ilegal na Droga” or “Masa Masid,” a community-based program for the prevention of corruption, illegal drugs and criminality in barangays.
Soriano also stressed that rehabilitation of people victimized by illegal drugs must be tied to livelihood initiatives.
“Pag gumaling, meron siyang gagawin productively. Kasi ang lumalabas, pami-pamilya ang tinatamaan so ang need for the integration of livelihood is very important,” he said.
Soriano also said the government is working closely with the private sector on how they can contribute in the rehabilitation of illegal drug users.
In the same briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella assured that the Philippines’ relationship with its neighbors in the region remains strong, underscoring President Duterte’s upcoming visits to China, Brunei, and Japan.
“Our relationships with the ASEAN countries remain fundamentally solid,” Abella said.
Abella also said that while the Philippines is very grateful for the international aid it has received through the years, President Duterte is reminding the Filipinos that it is time to gain some self-respect and build a sense of identity.
“It should be aid and should not be used as a tool,” Abella said. “More than that, from where the President is coming from, he is trying to remind the Filipino people to regain some self-respect.”
“Yes, we accept aid and we respect (that) and we are very grateful for these things but these are not things that we depend on. These are not things that we seek out or are willing to back off on our principles simply because we are afraid to lose aid,” he added, noting that President Duterte is trying to build Filipino character and Filipino identity.