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Wasting little time in his first hour in office, President Duterte yesterday ordered departments and agencies under him to cut bureaucratic red tape in government transactions.
“I direct all department secretaries and the heads of agencies to reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications, from the submission to the release,” said Duterte during his speech that followed his inauguration at Malacañang.
“I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to remove redundant requirements and compliance with one department or agency, shall be accepted as sufficient for all.”
Duterte, 71, spelled out this policy along with another directive to honor government contracts.
“I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to refrain from changing and bending the rules government contracts, transactions and projects already approved and awaiting implementation. Changing the rules when the game is on-going is wrong,” he said.
Duterte added: “I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions from submission of proposals to negotiation to perfection and finally, to consummation.”
Duterte was sworn into office by Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes surrounded by family, senior government officials, diplomats and other administration allies.
The firebrand former mayor of Davao City promised sweeping reforms to restore public trust in government as he expressed readiness to “serve everyone and not only one” in his quest towards a “better Philippines.”
“The ride will be rough. But come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder, let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest,” Duterte said in his profanity-free 14-minute speech.
Duterte acknowledged that the real problem confronting the nation is the erosion of public faith and trust in government.
“I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier,” Duterte said. “Indeed ours is a problem that dampens the human spirit. But all is not lost.”
Duterte then laid down his plans to launch an intensified campaign against crime, illegal drugs and corruption, urging Congress and the Commission on Human Rights not to stand in his way.
The new leader said he was aware some groups have opposed his methods to fight crime and corruption as “unorthodox” and bordering on the illegal but assured that he would abide by due process and the rule of law.
“In this fight, I ask Congress and the Commission on Human Rights and all others who are similarly situated to allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained,” Duterte said.
“As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising,” he added. “You mind your work and I will mind mine.”
Duterte said he has seen how corruption has dried up government funds that were supposed to uplift the lives of the Filipino poor.
He also personally witnessed how illegal drugs destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships. “I have seen how criminality, by means all foul, snatched from the innocent and the unsuspecting, the years and years of accumulated savings. Years of toil and then, suddenly, they are back to where they started,” he added.
On the international front, Duterte affirmed that the country will honor treaties and international obligations. His government is also determined to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms.
“I am elated by the expression of unity among our Moro brothers and leaders, and the response of everyone else to my call for peace,” he said. “I look forward to the participation of all other stakeholders, particularly our indigenous peoples, to ensure inclusivity in the peace process,” he added.
Duterte said the journey to a “better Philippines” would be “rough” but asked the Filipinos to rally behind such quest. He recognized that people have clamored for genuine and meaningful change but such change must start with the people.
“Change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us. To borrow the language of F. Sionil Jose, we have become our own worst enemies. And we must have the courage and the will to change ourselves,” Duterte said.
“Love of country, subordination of personal interests to the common good, concern and care for the helpless and the impoverished – these are among the lost and faded values that we seek to recover and revitalize as we commence our journey towards a better Philippines,” he said.
Duterte’s inaugural speech was also peppered with quotes from two former US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, which he claimed would serve as foundation upon which his administration would be built.
He recalled the words of Roosevelt: “The test of government is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have little.”
He also draws inspiration from Lincoln who once said “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; You cannot help the poor by discouraging the rich; You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer; You cannot further the brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men.” (GENALYN KABILING)