Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Inauguration of the Davao International Container Terminal (DICT)
Panabo City, Davao Del Norte
02 September 2016
Kindly sit down. Thank you.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr., Mayor James Gamao, Mr. Alexander Valoria, the members of the Floirendo family, distinguished guests, my beloved countrymen.

I was about very young, as in young, I had the occasion to accompany my father to visit North Davao, then a part of one huge province. And I can remember that at that time, there was a talk about Mr. Floirendo who fell of his horse and that he was injured. And my father asked questions about the state of the abaca plantation. ‘Yan ho ang una ninyo. I was small then, but I realized that the hugeness of the plantation.

Few years later, you branched out into the banana industry, then to real estate and to something big, really big and it is really DICT which is the biggest now.

I remember also your Damosa, the historical landmark of the Floirendos here in Davao before, because it was, the dealer shop that we bought our first car. ‘Yung Galaxy Ford. Yes. ‘Yun ang una namin at ‘yun na rin pinakahuli because thereafter, well, may father transferred to work in Manila.

You know, what I just—maybe not so learned philosophy about world trade. We are shrinking very fast. What’s used to be one month to cross the Pacific, something like just about a matter of two weeks and—the boats are fast and the aircrafts have become high-tech and we are actually near to each other, even in a matter of state nations.

Sa—naala-ala ko doon sa—mahina kasi ‘yung economic teachers namin. Pero what I remember from him is this: The constant, the constant theory is that whether you export or you import goods and services, you go always for the fastest, the safest, and the cheapest.

Nowadays, it seems to be that all has been prophesied about a decade earlier. But this time, we are full also of troubles. Instead of making the maritime sea safe, international waters secured for everybody, we have now the conflicts in Africa, the narrow alley there that passes by Somalia and of course, the Moluccas, where there is a constant threat of piracy. Piracy, they call it.

And so ‘yan ang naka—nagugulo natin dito ngayon. And also this time, there is a threat—not really a threat, but it could be a potential plus point, itong China Sea.

For as long as China would just remain its posturing now and does not in anyway continue to build structures that would prevent or obstruct maritime journeys there, okay lang.

Ang problema nito, if it continues to build up, as we have just read the intelligence report last night and there seems to be new barges coming in and they suspect that it’s going to be another construction somewhere.

Eh, pagka-ganon—and when the time comes that there is really a military institutions, everything will violate the constant theory that my economic professor told me. Because one of that is that it must be the safest and it must be the cheapest, the shortest, because if with that, you have to go around the Pacific.

Ang problema nito is we do not really know what the intentions of China are. Ano ba talaga gusto niya? Because if he continues building military installations there, everything will go up. Then trade in this part of that alley there, that corridor, would go up. And insurance would go up, for the ship and the goods that they transport, because then it would be a source of conflict and thereby the threat is always there.

And so the actuarians now would say that it is not as safe as it used to be, five or ten years ago, and so we have every reason to increase the insurance.

Pagka ‘yan na ang pumasok, then I’m afraid that my professor was correct, that it could not be the cheapest, the fastest, and the shortest.

‘Yan ang problema. I’ll just limit myself to that. I have nothing against China now. I do not intend to raise the issue before the ASEAN, because if I do, there’s going to be a convoluted thing there. Kanya-kanya na.

When as a matter of fact, it is just an issue between the Philippines and China. I will not because I do not want any clutters there. But, for sure, and you can be very sure of this, that when we face bilateral, kung magkaharap na kami, kami sa mga counterpart ko from Beijing or somewhere, I said there will, there’ll be time when I will say that: This is the arbitral ruling and if you want to talk to me, this will be my platform and we do not go out of the four corners of this document, whether you like it or not, I proceed and my predicate for my willingness to talk to you would be the arbitration judgment in our favor.

It has nothing to do with being afraid. We do not have to be afraid of anybody. We can, maybe, fight, maybe can lose a battle, but if it’s a war—well, I don’t know how many nations will get into it.

We are all for peace. I do not want to ignite anything there. I’ve been holding my tongue, and as my nature probably, you know by now, I’m the guy that would just blurt out anything that enters my mind.

But, you know, that is not an idiosyncrasy that would be personal to me. I carry on my shoulders the burden of this country. I am the President. I take care solely of the foreign affairs of this country and I should be wary of my behavior and gesture, and even in the official and personal capacity.

‘Yan lang ho ang makita ko dito na… Everything is all right. You see ships beyond the boundaries of our international waters. But sometimes, there are things that would just crop up, it has never been raised before as assiduous as this. But now, if you ask them, China would just say that: We will not honor it— ‘Wag natin bang-banggain muna because there are no formal talks.

But you can be very sure, pag kami na lang, eyeball to eyeball, sabihin ko talaga: Let us not talk of anything else. Let us talk about this arbitration. But not now. Timing lang ho ‘yan.

I was a bit—was unsettling coming here. Sakay ako sa chopper at nabasa ko ‘yung report that ‘yung Coast Guard made some little trips near them and there are a lot of barges. You know, a barge. What is a purpose of a barge? If you put something there and bring it somewhere, usually, I think they’re starting to—sa Masinloc. And this would be another ruckus there. I don’t know. We have a one-on-one, maybe, I’ll just bring it, pero ‘yung eyeball to eyeball, kami lang. Philippines with China.

Pero kung—I have to face China, Russia, and United States, then Philippines on one side and they can ask questions. Maybe, I’ll just navigate into something like: I am not prepared to talk to the United States at this time. I am not ready to, I said, to exchange barbs there with China. I don’t know.

I’ll just proceed with the right drift that we do not want any quarrel, that we do not want any—at all, at this time. Except that we want to trade, commerce with everybody. We have plenty to sell, plenty to ship. I hope that it would not be the time where we have to make crucial decisions in our national life.

Iniisip-isip ko nga na ano, nandito man si Ambassador Lagdameo. Ano kaya sir, sa China ka lang muna? (laughter) Medyo mukhang tigasin itong mga ano natin.

But, my thing there is I go, I’ll just have a soft landing, soft landing lang ako. But sana, hindi mangyari, but ang problema nito, everybody’s interested like Vietnam. Then you have Malaysia, then you have Indonesia.

Ang problema nito, wala akong correct reading sa kanila. And even sa Malaysia because they also have the same problem which is really personified by the Philippines kasi tayo ‘yung nauna, tayo ‘yung nag-file. And I would say that it would be the credit of President Aquino. Credit is given where it is due.

Ang problema, it is accompanied now by so many—maraming prob—ang naka-attach doon is something which is big. And so they say that they would not honor it but we cannot be, you know, we can only take so much. We can only take so much.

But you cannot be slapped everyday with that kind of words. Ang sabihin mo na, parang naghamon ka na: I will, anybody to all and sundry, I’m not willing to agree on anything because that is ours, sabihin ng kabila, which is also our position. And the International Court supporting us, clearly with—in plain language. Atin talaga.

But since we are a small country, we cannot match the arms and armaments and the weaponry of China so at this time, take out war as an option.

If there is no war then there is only one thing that we can do. China says, it is not good to go to war because so many reasons. But ours frankly, going to the brass tacks, going to the minimum. Ano ‘yan? Hindi talaga natin kaya. It’s going to be a massacre. So hold muna tayo.

Let us find out how we go about, I said navigating the stormy waters there. But I’m sure as your President, hindi ko kayo ipapasubo. Pero hindi ko kayo ipapahiya.

There will be a time—well, I have to make a stand and I have to make it clear to China that you know, every time you talk about sole ownership or even entitlements there, is something which is totally unacceptable to us.

So ‘yun lang ho ang masasabi ko for the time. Just ignore the politics in the national level, pulitika lang talaga ‘yan eh. It’s all politics. The problem is, sabihin niya: Ang problema kasi nitong mga tao natin, mga opisyal, puro pulitika.

But you must remember that in a democracy, the leaders are elected by the people. And therefore, you cannot take away entirely even after elections what you should be doing for the next few months because after three years, count it by 12, there’s gonna be election again.

Mabuti na lang sa akin because I sit there for six years and I can plan.

As I have said, kayong gustong tumulang—ah tumulang. Ano ba yun? Tumulong rather. My Tagalog is very bad.

Those of you who really want to help this country, your country, now is the time to do it. Ngayon na sa panahon ko. I assure you, it will be a clean government as I have repeatedly stressed.

There will be no graft and corruption and I stake my name, life, and the presidency itself.

Ngayon na, take advantage of that and for as long as you inform me, there will be no problem at all. I am available to everybody, not only to the Cabinet officials.

You have so many friends that are connected to me. Tony Boy, maski sino, si Speaker, puro taga-Davao ang humahawak ng—are you not surprised that lahat ng humahawak ng gobyerno ngayon, taga-Davao?

It is really the time of the Davaoeños. You know, before, they were saying that pangit kung—to divide Davao but there was already ripe talks that dapat ang Davao i-divide na to spur development.

But since it was my father who was the governor of the—undivided Davao. Eh parang I sensed na ayaw niya na gusto niya. Kasi ano, when you start to divide a kingdom, it always affects the king. So nakita ko na ‘yung wisdom ngayon. It was good that Davao was really divided.

Well, it started to be a gerrymandering. Like giving territories to your political lieutenants. But then as time passed, kanya-kanya na ang competition eh.

So you have Davao. Ginawan ulit, Davao del Norte, Davao lang. Then you have Del Sur also, little movement there.

About time really to—in that area because the lands there are owned by a few families.

Just for example, Digos. Digos was just a barrio of the municipality of Santa Cruz noon. Do you know that? ‘Nong hiniwalay sila doon sa landed estates, sa mga may-ari, then they started to occupy, it’s used to be known as the pati ‘Padada Christiansen’ Plantation.’

And they have the Doromals of Malita. The … of Santa Maria. Noong na ano na, na-divide na and even Oriental, it’s moving really, not as fast as Davao del Norte.

Ang Davao del Norte, masuwerte lang kasi dito ‘yung horizons naka-set, ‘yung mata ni Antonio Floirendo, Sr. So ‘yun siya ang visionary talaga. (applause) Siya ‘yung dapat naging gobernador dito sana.

But siguro ayaw niya ng—a little bit of disdain sa politics. He supported candidates including me, my father, and lahat, and hanggang ngayon, mga anak na.

Pero I suppose that the theory of dividing it to several local governments to spur up competition and development. Competition is very important.

But the biggest to rise in Mindanao, ‘yung Anflo and the DICT now, which I would just like to simply call Anflo na lang para madali. (applause) Tutal, ‘yun naman talaga ang ano, it’s the name that carried the family all throughout till the next generation.

So again, I would like to thank DICT or Anflo, the family, for giving back the profits of the years, flowing it back into some enterprises and it has now—the the Anflo provided jobs, opportunities, and all and the ancillary, pati ‘yung mga collateral businesses allied along the way.

So again, congratulations at mabuhay ang Anflo.