COME visit the Philippines and see the changes.
Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano made this invitation to her fellow parliamentarians from other nations as she defended President Rodrigo Duterte in his effort to stop the illegal drug trade in his country.
Cayetano is an official delegate of the Philippines to the 135th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) forum held in Geneva.
In her speech before the 120 participants, Cayetano appealed to her fellow lawmakers from all over the world to take a more informed look at President Duterte and how he changed the country in the first 120 days of his administration.
Cayetano likewise urged them to support the efforts of the Philippine government to bring peace and progress which have long eluded her country, particularly in Mindanao.
“He (President Duterte) has told world leaders who have been quick to criticize that he takes full responsibility for the well-being of the Filipinos,” she told her counterparts at the forum organized by the IPU standing committee on peace and international security.
“We (Filipinos) have lived with unrest, (but now) it is a time for peace. I invite you, my fellow parliamentarians, to look at my country and my President from this perspective and join us in our quest for peace and prosperity,” she pointed out.
Cayetano opened her speech with a personal story from the 80s about how she, then a young volleyball athlete, was prohibited by her father (the late Senator Rene Compañero Cayetano) from joining the Palarong Pambansa, which was to be staged in Southern Philippines, for fear of her safety.
“I missed the national competition which was held in the southern part of the country, in Mindanao, because my father did not let me go for security reasons. For decades, peace eluded different parts of our country, including the South. Cost of war: Hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of lives lost, over one million displaced,” she recounted.
“Today, we have a President from the South, in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte. Mayor from Davao City, a city much like the ‘Wild West’ thirty years ago, until he transformed it into the progressive city that it is today. Coming from the South, he understands the cultural differences and historical background that may finally give us a chance for peace.”
Cayetano enumerated some of the thrusts of the Duterte government, including its support for the full implementation of the reproductive health program, a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places which is expected to be enforced nationwide, restructuring of income tax brackets, and the intensified campaign against illegal drugs and corrupt public officials. She also cited the country’s efforts to build stronger ties with its Asian neighbors, including China.