MANILA -– President Rodrigo Duterte assured Wednesday that he will not follow in the footsteps of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
”I have no plan to be a dictator. I’m a lawyer. My mother was a Yellow Friday leader in Davao. They said, I will be like Marcos, far from it,” Duterte said in a speech as he met 129 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated from Saudi Arabia, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
President Duterte explained that he is just doing his duty as the country’s 16th President elected by more than 16 million Filipinos in the last May 9 national elections.
”I am just doing my duty, or else I will compromise our next generation,” he said.
Living up to his election campaign promises, President Duterte has launched a war on the drug menace that has prompted more than 600,000 drug dependents to surrender themselves to the authorities.
Police have reported that close to 800 drug pushers and users have been killed in legitimate police operations and more than 10,000 drug addicts have been arrested.
”I’m trying to catch up with time,” President Duterte said.
He said the more than three million Filipinos addicted to drugs is enough proof that there is a crisis in the country, requiring drastic actions from the government.
President Duterte told the repatriated OFWs to avoid drugs and instead help him fight the menace, along with graft and corruption, and criminality.
”Avoid drugs at all costs because it could cost your life too. That’s the reality because we have three million plus affected. That is a crisis for the country,” Duterte said.
To help the OFWs displaced by the financial crisis, President Duterte said the government has shouldered their plane tickets and is handing them PHP5,000 each. The government will also enroll them temporarily in the 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
President Duterte was joined by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay in welcoming the repatriated OFWs.
Bello told the OFWs that they will be provided with lawyers who will help them obtain their unpaid wages and benefits and other legal claims from their respective employers in Saudi Arabia.
Yasay said it was President Duterte who instructed them to do their best to help the almost 9,000 stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
President Duterte said the government is working also to hasten the repatriation of the remaining stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
”Actually our economy is that so bad. Just give a little time, I will fix our economy and to give you opportunity to work here. We are not really exceeding the expectations but we are on target in our growth,” he said.
The President said the Department of Trade and Industry is working to strengthen small and medium enterprises (SMEs)and the “Go Negosyo” program that will provide loans to small business entrepreneurs. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com