Vice President Sara Duterte on Thursday, Aug. 11, emphasized her support for peace-building and asked Samarnons not to engage with or support their “friends” in the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).
An outspoken critic of the communist movement in the country, Duterte spoke against the rebel group during the province’s 181st anniversary celebration.
“I call on the people of Samar to support the government in building a nation that is more than equipped and ready for disasters. And more than that, I request you to not give your support to groups or people who want to destroy or bring down our government,” she said, adding that the government is the province’s partner in nation building and that it will always be behind the Samarnons.
“Gusto ko lang klaruhin, baka kasi hindi maintindihan kung ano ang ibig sabihin ko na mga tao o grupo na pilit pinapabagsak ang gobyerno, mag diretsohan na tayo, ang ibig ko pong sabihin ‘yung mga kaibigan ninyo na nasa (I want to clarify, you might not understand what I meant by people or group who want to take down the government, what I mean is your friends in the) New People’s Army o mga (or the) NPA,” Duterte added.
The Vice President, who previously served as mayor of Davao City, recalled their journey from struggles of service delivery due to the concentration of rebel groups.
She shared that in the 1980s, a part of Davao City was an NPA stronghold.
When she first became mayor from 2010 to 2013, she had a hard time delivering government services to the Paquibato District.
But in four years, Davao City became insurgency-free because “we listened to the people and their problems.”
This anti-insurgency program of the city government is known as ‘Peace 911’, which influenced the disintegration of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 55.
Duterte stressed that the government is committed towards protecting the people and the nation, but also emphasized to Filipinos that the advancement of this cause relies heavily on community participation and faithfulness to the country.
“I am here to reiterate the commitment of government to everyone. It will not be easy, as it is has not been easy for the past 50-100 years for the Philippines, but if we work together in one direction, there will be small gains that will add up each day to become a very big change for our country,” she said.
The Vice President was in her second day of visit to Eastern Visayas, where she took the opportunity to praise the Samarnons for their resilience in surviving disasters.
She lauded the Samarnon’s strength which was shaped by their experiences in overcoming various challenges including the forces of nature.
“Samar Day celebrates the undying will of people to survive in the face of adversity. You give us the real definition of the word resiliency,” she said.
Despite problems, Samar also became a Class A province because of its well-honed resources and economic assets.
“Now classified as a Class A Province, Samar is proof that relentlessness, determination, and hard work are essential in the pursuit of our collective aspirations,” she said.
These values should “inspire and unite the entire nation as we aspire to make the Philippines stronger,” Duterte stressed.