President Rodrigo R. Duterte poses for a photo with Senator Cynthia Villar, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, and some personnel of MinDA during the 9th anniversary of MinDA and the 25th anniversary of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on February 19, 2019. (Albert Alcain/Presidential Photo)
DAVAO CITY -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has called on the Philippines’ partners in the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) to band together against all fronts that threaten the economy.
Speaking at the 9th anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the 25th anniversary of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (BIMP) - EAGA held at the SMX Convention Center here Tuesday, Duterte voiced concern over the illegal drugs trade and security threats.
“We have to band together. The world is changing, including the economy. It could go either bad or very bad or it could go well, but we will have to go into a bad level and I hope we can survive it,” the President said.
Since the four member countries are engaged in commerce, Duterte underscored the need for vigilance of those guarding the sea borders.
“Our navies must be vigilant. We have to be one in our patrols,” he said. “If there are pirates in our territory or in the high seas, my orders are blast them to kingdom come.”
Duterte also highlighted the country’s concerns on illegal drugs and the radical group Islamic State.
“This is a troubled world. Number one here in the Philippines, we have so many fronts to cover, interspersed with violence and talks,” he said, referring to communists and terrorists.
While the President cited the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) for reaching peace agreements with the government, he reiterated that his intensified campaign against illegal drugs and terrorism would continue.
Duterte expressed worry over the illegal drugs trade, which he said is getting widespread, hinting at the expansion of the Sinaloa cartel of Mexico and the well-known drug cartel, Golden Triangle, which operates in East Asian countries.
Amid continued criticisms of his administration’s war against drugs, he called on critics to also look on the other side -- the injustice and crime committed by drug suppliers and some drug addicts.
“We’ll try to solve our own problems. We do not have to kill. We do not bomb churches. We do not kill civilians. There’s nothing in the book of civilization which says that you kill innocent person, helpless women and children,” he said.
BIMP-EAGA is a sub-regional economic co-operation established in Davao City in 1994 to spur economic development in the lagging sub-economies.
It covers the underdeveloped and geographically remote areas of the four-member countries -- the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; nine provinces in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the island chain of Maluku, and Papua in Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; the 26 provinces of Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines. (PNA)