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If there’s anything that will “test” the Rodrigo Duterte administration, it will be how it carries itself in the face of the upcoming integration of Southeast Asian economies as well as the country’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Thus, said outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. even as he wished the new administration well during his speech Monday night at the sine die adjournment of the Third Regular Session of the 16th Congress.
“Our country must be primed to take a leading role in the integration of the economies of the Southeast Asian region. The dispute on the West Philippine Sea will test the mettle of the next administration in diplomacy. We hope that the incoming administration will confront these challenges with wisdom and resolve,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), is likely to be replaced as Speaker by Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez – Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party mate – in the 17th Congress which will start late July.
Duterte and his longtime pal Alvarez are the chairman and secretary-general of PDP-Laban, respectively.
Belmonte noted that the incoming administration has already declared war on drugs, poverty and all forms of corruption. Moreover, it has vowed to prioritize education and health care for our people.
Belmonte exhorted his colleagues who would be part of the 17th Congress to help the Duterte administration by passing the necessary laws for the country’s development and progress while exercising its oversight powers.
“Let us strengthen our resolve to help the incoming administration by crafting and formulating laws required to move our country forward even as we exercise our powers of oversight,” he said.
“We welcome the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte with high hopes and unwavering faith in our collective love for the Filipino nation. Whatever changes or reforms the incoming administration may pursue, we hope that it will further strengthen and continue the reforms initiated by the Aquino administration,” continued the speaker.
Belmonte didn’t forget to hail the outgoing President Aquino in his farewell speech as leader of the 300-member Chamber.
He said that Aquino’s single-minded dedication to his duties and responsibilities and his unblemished integrity has “gained the admiration and high regard of other countries in the country’s economic and geopolitical endeavors”.