By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
ISTANBUL, Turkey -President Duterte dared millennials to not just think of themselves but to also think of how their decisions affect people and their society.
During the conferment of an honorary doctorate on him on Saturday by the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), the President told the audience, most of whom were students, to always also think of the people around them and always do what is right.
“I think this is constructive of new millennials so you can build on your own nation’s great narratives of heroism. Let me challenge you all to extend your notion of self to include your neighbors in your identity, your community, your nation, and the whole world,” he said.
“The opportunity for grand gestures and sacrifices may not be opened for you, but that is okay. What is important is you do what is right, always, with dedication through reflection and most of all, by honesty,” he added.
According to the President, thinking about other people is important so the world can face common struggles together.
“Today’s challenges require us to soften the boundary between self and the others. In my country, we call this ‘kapwa’ or shared inner identity. This means seeing a part of the self in the other and vice versa. This is the core element of the Filipino identity. This has enabled us to come together in triumph and in adversity all throughout our history,” Duterte said.
The honorary doctorate degree from the MGIMO was the first that the Philippine leader accepted. According to the President, he lived by the principle of not accepting accolades for doing exactly what he was being paid to do.
However, he said that this time was different because of how intertwined the Philippines and Russia are.
“Like Russia, the Philippines has always fought for its right to exist as a sovereign nation. Nothing was given to us for free. Our ancestors paid with their own blood for everything that we enjoy today,” he said.
“During the bombing of Manila and the Siege of Leningrad, the brave and resilient Filipino and Russian spirits did not falter as thousands of our peoples died,” Duterte added.
“Indeed, the Philippines and Russia have shared a historic past. That is why I am deeply honored to receive this distinction from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, a renowned institute that continues to shape your nation’s narrative,” he continued.
Colonizers out, global challenges in
Duterte said that while colonizers and aggressors have become a thing of the past, they were replaced by global challenges that defy borders and affect everyone everywhere.
The President, in particular, called for unity to address climate change which he said threatens the very survival of the planet Earth due to disruptive weather patterns with stronger intensities which blow on archipelagos like the Philippines year-in and year-out.
“It is aggravating existing divides within and between nations and even as it creates new ones. Hence, we have to work together to find solutions that are effective, fair, and beneficial to everyone,” Duterte said.
“We cannot allow those most important and responsible people for this monumental problem to dominate this global agenda once again. We have to make sure that the solutions that we advance hear those who suffer the most,” he added.
Duterte also said that societies will become more vulnerable to threats that transcend boundaries like terrorism and violent extremism, and drug trafficking. He said these will be the dangers that will prevail from this generation forward.
“They threaten our security, they destroy the fabric of our society, and they endanger the future of our youth from hereon. These consequences are the same wherever we go,” he said.
“Common threats make us one. What is required is open and genuine cooperation without political preconditions,” he added.
Duterte also told the students that he would not allow the Philippines to be dragged in “this period of heightened geopolitical rivalry.”
“I cannot and will not allow my country to be dragged in the elaborate games that big powers play. We will not allow ourselves to be used as pawns in their respective quests for dominance,” he said.
The President said that the Philippines is redefining its long-standing alliance with the United States while deepening relations with non-traditional partners like Russia and India.
He said the country is also strengthening its strategic partnership with Japan as a driver of growth and peace in the region; and that the Philippines is rebuilding its relations with China while working towards a fair and durable solution to the dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
“We are doing it in our own way. Our brand of integration is one that reinforces individual sovereignty while working together; one that enriches national identities while celebrating our commonalities and one that draws on separate strengths,” Duterte said.