Duterte’s New Year message: Reflect, learn from past lessons

MANILA, Philippines – On the first day of 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos to “reflect and learn” from the past as the nation entered the new year.

“As we herald the start of another year, let us reflect on our storied past and learn from its lessons so that we can face the future with more confidence,” he said in a message released to the media on Tuesday, January 1.

Duterte renewed his message of eradicating illegal drugs and corruption, and urging the people to unite against these factors that slow down the country’s growth.

“Let us work hand in hand to defeat the ills of drugs, criminality and corruption that stunt our development,” he said.

Duterte won the presidency in 2016 on a platform that promised ridding the country of crime and the illegal drug menace within just 6 months of his administration but nearly midway into his term, 22,641 barangays remained classified as "drug-affected," according to a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency report in December 2018.

Even when he was still a candidate, the President promised a bloody campaign against drugs. Based on the latest government tally, the campaign had claimed 5,050 lives since the start of the campaign on July 1, 2016, 

Human rights groups, however, estimate over 20,000 deaths including vigilante-style killings.

Duterte encouraged Filipinos to “face all obstacles head on,” full of hope and determination that the country can “triumph” over any challenges coming its way this 2019.

In 2018, Filipinos were hit hard by rising prices partly driven by higher taxes implemented last year. Higher prices of basic commodities like rice, the national stape, impacted especially the poorest of Filipinos. – Rappler.com