Duterte tells Palaro athletes to fight for country

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte opened Palarong Pambansa 2017 by telling its young athletes to learn how to fight for the country in case there will be a state of anarchy.

"You have to go back to ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) kasi iyong mga ROTC, iyon iyong may training. Reserve officers nga eh. If there is really violence, anarchy, ang marunong mag-handle ng M16, iyong mga ROTC. Iyon ang mag-guide sa civilians na walang alam," Duterte said in his speech on Sunday, April 23.

(You have to go back to ROTC because those in ROTC, they have the training. That's why they're called reserve officers. If there is really violence, anarchy, those in ROTC know how to handle an M16 rifle. They will guide the civilians who have no knowledge of that.)

Duterte said he will push for the passage of a law to restore ROTC, a program that was abolished in 2002 when a student from the University of Santo Tomas was killed after exposing the corruption there. The President earlier said he would seek mandatory ROTC for students in grades 11 and 12.

"I can be assured that the next generation, at least, marunong kayo humawak ng baril, marunong kayo mag-maneuver paano akyatin ang bukid na 'yan at marunong kayong mag-depensa sa bayan ninyo," he told the Palarong Pambansa athletes.

(I can be assured that the next generation at least knows how to handle a gun, how to maneuver around fields, and how to defend the country.)

While taking a swipe at the Philippines' defense partnership with the United States, Duterte said only Filipinos will be able to fight for the country.

"You always ask America for help? They will not die for you. Kayo ang magpakamatay [para] sa bayan natin (You have to sacrifice your life for our nation). That is a message from a father to the nation," he said.

The President added that the young athletes should help save the country from "deteriorating."

FIRST FAMILY. President Rodrigo Duterte's common-law wife Honeylet Avanceu00f1a and their daughter Veronica join him at the opening ceremony of Palarong Pambansa 2017. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

FIRST FAMILY. President Rodrigo Duterte's common-law wife Honeylet Avanceu00f1a and their daughter Veronica join him at the opening ceremony of Palarong Pambansa 2017.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Drugs, terrorism, corruption

Duterte graced the Palarong Pambansa opening with his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña and their daughter Veronica Duterte.

His speech, unlikely for a sports event, revolved largely around his usual topics – drugs, terrorism, and corruption.

"I am warning everybody into drugs or connected with drugs… if you continue with your business, you will die," Duterte said.

"Kung walang terrorism pati droga (If there were no terrorism and drugs), the Philippines by now will be – would have been heaven."

The President was visibly angry as he talked about terrorism, especially the hunt for Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol.

Duterte said he wants the terrorists delivered to him dead, and also repeated a threat he made back in September 2016.

"Bigyan mo ako diyan terorista, bigyan mo ako asin pati suka, kakainin ko iyang atay niyan," he said. (Give me a terrorist, give me salt and vinegar, I'll eat his liver.)

The President also reiterated his stand on eliminating corruption while promising to give the biggest budget to education as long as he is in power.

"We are pouring money [into] the education sector. You have the biggest appropriation in the annual budget, and for the rest of my term, it will be. I've always believed education would save us someday," he said.

As Duterte concluded his speech, he congratulated the athletes and made special mention of the delegates from the Davao Region, where he is from.

Duterte served as Davao City mayor for two decades before being elected president. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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