Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jan 2017
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2017
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Author: Marichu A. Villanueva


No matter how the questions were rephrased, the President stuck to his
guns in his replies on his much criticized campaign against illegal drugs.

For a man who made a campaign vow to bring genuine change in the country,
it may come strange. For his new year's resolution, President Rodrigo
Duterte promises no change in his administration's offensive campaign
against illegal drugs.

President Duterte though already publicly declared "sorry for the
unintended" killing of innocent by-standers in his administration's deadly
war against illegal drugs. But President Duterte vows to continue the
anti-drug campaign despite the alleged extra-judicial killing
controversies that hounded him in his first six months into office.

The presidential new year's resolutions were echoed repeatedly in marathon
television interviews one after the other at Malacanang Palace last
Thursday. Six TV networks were given one hour each to do exclusive
sit-down interview with President Duterte.

Yes, President Duterte had a total of six hours sit-down interviews
starting at 4 p.m. spread out in half day. For someone who could only
sleep by 2 a.m., the President was still in his best elements up to the
last interview that ended past 11:30 p.m.

The 72-year-old President had to woke up very early the next morning last
Friday to lead the traditional flag-raising rites to mark the death
anniversary of our country's national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Whether he was
able to sleep at all, we did not see it from President Duterte who strode
very crisp in the early morning flag-raising rites in front of the Rizal
Monument in Luneta.

Wearing barong tagalog with his signature rolled up sleeves, President
Duterte charmed everyone who attended the early morning commemorative
rites at Luneta. After his meet-and-greet with the guests who included
members of the diplomatic corps present, the President crossed the street
and went to the crowd. It caught off guard his Presidential Security Group
(PSG) close-in escorts when he suddenly walked all the way to the crowd
who were restrained by the barriers. Instead of directly riding back to
his vehicle, the President took his sweet time to shake hands with his
horde of well-wishers.

The only worry that President Duterte had in mind was the thought of being
pulled up into air when he leads the raising of the gigantic Philippine
flag. Actually, uniformed military guards were actually the ones pulling
up the flag from behind the President and other government officials who
by tradition helped raise the tricolor.

This was the first time President Duterte did this in his 40 years in the
public service. The former Davao City Mayor will have to do the same thing
over and over again for the remaining five years and six months of his

That is, if it will be his destiny to finish and complete his term without
being ousted from his office, or dies due to either sickness or
assassination. President Duterte repeatedly stressed during all these TV

During these six interviews, he was asked the same question of alleged
ouster plot. It is non-issue because he has been vocal even in his public
speeches on his fatalist views about life. The ouster plot gained was
revived following supposed "blueprint" on how to remove President Duterte
from office crafted supposedly by former US ambassador to the Philippines
Philip Goldberg.

The US Embassy already thrashed the so-called "blueprint" ouster plot. It
was obviously cashing in on President Duterte's running feud with the
former American ambassador. The President much earlier admitted he has not
forgotten how Goldberg commented on a human rights issue raised against
him during the presidential campaign.

President Duterte though did not show any signs of fatigue, not even
inconsistency in his replies during each and every interview. Sadly, many
questions were practically repeated over and over. I just don't know if
these separate sit-down TV interview running one after the other was the
idea of President Duterte.

Or perhaps, former TV broadcaster Presidential Communications Office
Secretary Martin Andanar became too accommodating to please every network.
It started with Pinky Webb for the CNN-Philippines; then Linda Jumilla for
ABS-CBN/ANC; Jessica Soho sat for GMA-7; Maria Reza of Rappler took over;
TV5 news anchor Luchie Valdez came in; and Rocky Ignacio with a newcomer
news reader of PTV 4 were the last ones.

Just how the order of interviews were arranged in that order was beyond me.

But we must give credit to the sheer stamina of the Chief Executive. He
kept cool answering to all questions, no matter how repetitive. As we say
in our street language, he sounded like a broken record, though in a
positive way.

No matter how the questions were rephrased, the President stuck to his
guns in his replies on his much criticized campaign against illegal drugs.

The President vows to observe "no compassion" for those engaged in illegal

The only change that will certainly happen this new year, the President
disclosed, is the scheduled changing of the guard at the Department of
Foreign Affairs (DFA). But this change will come only by the middle of
2017 when his losing vice presidential runningmate, Sen. Alan Peter
Cayetano takes over from outgoing DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

The Chief Executive reiterated Yasay merely acceded to his request to join
his Cabinet and help him in the formative months of his administration. A
boarding mate while they were still both law students, the former Davao
City Mayor is only thankful that Yasay heeded his request.

Under the country's laws, Cayetano and others like him who run but lost in
the last May 9 national and local elections are covered by the one-year
ban on appointive office. As per their gentlemen's agreement, Cayetano
will take over as DFA Secretary after the lapse of this one-year ban.

In fact, Cayetano has tagged along as official member of the Philippine
delegation in all state and official visits done by President Duterte in
the past six months. And the Senator has been practically attending the
Duterte Cabinet meetings that take him to Malacanang almost up to the wee
hours of the day.

This should explain why Cayetano has been out and missing action at the
Senate because he is already doing an on-the-job training as DFA

With Cayetano joining him later on full-time basis in his Cabinet,
President Duterte's new year's resolution for 2017 is to expect no change
in the war against illegal drugs, crime and corruption.
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