By Genalyn Kabiling
He may be known for tough persona but President Duterte has candidly admitted he was afraid to die.
The President said he idolizes brave people, especially Medal of Valor awardees, because he was the opposite.
Duterte made the remarks when he met Army Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, during an assembly with government troops in Isabela last Tuesday. The event coincided with the presentation of dozens of rebel returnees and their weapons to the President.
“Basta mga Valor sir bilib — kasi sir, duwag ako. Takot ako mamatay [I’m impressed with Valor awardees because I am a coward. I am afraid to die],” Duterte told Bacarro.
“Lahat ng matatapang, sir, idol ko. Congratulations, sir. I salute you!” he added.
Duterte extended his birthday greeting to Bacarro and invited him for coffee in Malacañang “one of these days.” Bacarro is the commander of the Army’s 502nd Infantry Brigade.
In his speech, the President has commended the 5th Infantry Division led by Major General Perfecto Rimando Jr. for the relentless efforts against insurgents and other threat groups in the area.
Duterte said he was proud of the courageous soldiers, adding that their dedication to duty was testament to their commitment to protect the people and defend their nation.
“The presence of the NPA surrenderors is proof of the 5th ID’s achievements and collective resolve to restore peace in our land,” he said.
“Because of your valiant efforts, we have convinced almost a hundred NPA surrenderors who decided to return to the fold of the law and we also successfully recovered 45 firearms,” he said.
Duterte was also optimistic about the government’s victory against the groups threatening the country’s peace and order.
“With your bravery and patriotism, I am optimistic that we will one day defeat all threats to our sovereignty, improve the lives of our people and strengthen the foundation of a more inclusive and progressive tomorrow,” he said.
Duterte said the Filipino people are grateful for the military’s heroism and he issued them that “you are not alone in this fight.”
“You have my full support and I stand by you as we secure a safer future for our children,” he said.
“The path that we have chosen is one that is difficult and one that requires selfless dedication. Know that the government will provide you and the tools and the resources necessary to effectively perform your mandate as protectors of the nation,” he said.