Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
While a section of the international media has long started war against President Rodrigo Duterte, immediately after he had declared war against drugs and Islamist militancy groups, in the recent time, some of the news outlets in the Philippines also are publishing opinion editorials and commentaries, which are filled with extremely defamatory and misleading comments on this remarkable politician, who has risked his life for freeing his nation from the evil clutches of drugs and jihadists.
Leading newspaper in the Philippines, The Inquirer in an op-ed titled ‘The corrupt Rodrigo Duterte’ which was published on August 19 wrote: “President Duterte made two policy statements lately defining conduct on corruption. In fact, both can be considered as stratagems because they proposed concrete courses of action.
“Policy No. 1. Police can accept cash or gifts, and even engage in earning extra income from video-karera (horse racing video machine games) operations. Admitting that accepting cash or gifts was prohibited under the antigraft law, he lambasted the law instead. Note also that nowhere in that policy speech did he use the self-explanatory term “bribe.”
“Policy No. 2. Speaking before the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Duterte laid out his solution to corruption involving infrastructure projects. Private contractors, he said, should pad project costs by 10-50 percent over the actual cost of public works like roads and bridges. By padding it, not only would contractors cover their own profits but also have sufficient amount to cover kickbacks to government officials. He said this formula prevents the contractor from shortchanging government. But does it prevent thievery of public money?
“That policy speech never mentioned the P700 billion, or 20 percent of the government’s total budget appropriation that we lose to corruption annually, ranking us the sixth most corrupt among Asia-Pacific countries, reminds the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman”.
This article is clearly aimed at portraying President Duterte as a corrupt individual, though he has been vigorously combating drugs, jihad, and corruption. But of course, to the Philippines, combating drugs and jihad are of immense priority as those already are threatening the very sovereignty of the country. In the recent years, radical Islamic militancy groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Joish-e-Mohammed, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), Abu Saiyyaf etc., had joined the transnational drugs trafficking activities for generating required cash for continuing their evil activities. It means, there are connections between narco-trade and jihad, and of course, for a country like the Philippines, which already is facing threats posed by pro-ISIS Abu Saiyyaf, combating drugs is essential. Otherwise, it will in one hand spoil the future generation of the country and on the other hand, an open prospect for notorious members of Abu Saiyyaf militancy outfit in generating cash for terrorism through this illegal trade.
President Rodrigo Duterte clearly is the savior of Philippines. He deserves support from the anti-militancy forces around the world.