President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday hosted the traditional New Year Vin d’ Honneur at the Malacañang Palace, reaffirming his commitment to eliminate corruption, criminality and illegal drugs in the country.
“Thank you for joining us today. We welcome 2017 with hope for a positive and meaningful change for the Philippines and for our peoples,” the President said in his message as he offered a toast before the members of the Diplomatic Corps and other government officials.
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President Duterte renewed his pledge to address the three basic evils that plague the Filipino people, especially the poorest and the disenfranchised: the burdens of slavery to drugs, corruption, criminality and armed rebellion in the south.
“I say to you all now that sacred vow remains unchanged. I stay true to the mandate reposed on me,” he said.
He vowed to go after corrupt officials as well as criminals, adding he will work very hard to finally break the apparatus of the illegal drugs trade in the country.
In the past few months, his administration has started the process of genuine reform to encourage more trade and investments, to intensify commercial activities, to ramp up investment and much-needed infrastructure, to increase revenues to make communities more resilient, and to improve basic social services, the President said.
Alongside these efforts, he said his government is talking to all stakeholders to bring about just and lasting peace in Mindanao and to finally bring to an end one of the longest-running revolutions in the world.
These changes are vital to make the Philippines a stronger republic, he said.
The country’s improved footing on political, social and economic spheres will give it an even more active and more influential role in the community of nations, according to the President.
And as the Philippines contends with its domestic challenges, the President said his administration values its partners as it seeks strengthened existing friendships even as it pursues new ones.
Friends help each other and utilize constructive engagement to achieve common goals, he noted, adding that in truth, everyone shares the same aspiration of greater peace, progress, and prosperity.
Highlighting that friendship knows no bounds, he said the Philippines has and will continue to build on friendships founded on a common objective, shared values and time-honored principles of international law.
“Let us work together to further expand the areas of mutual beneficial collaboration. This New Year, the Philippines takes on the ASEAN Chairmanship with renewed fervor, a sense of purpose,” the President said.
“It is an opportunity to exercise leadership to advance the regional development agenda of forging a rules-based community that puts citizens’ welfare at the heart of every initiative.
The Philippines counts on your full support,” he said.
Responding to the President’s toast, the dean of the diplomatic corps, Archbishop Guissepe Pinto, thanked the President for inviting them to join the traditional gathering at the Palace.
“Mr. President on this festive and traditional occasion of exchanging greetings at the beginning of the year, the chiefs of the diplomatic missions and the international organizations accredited to the government of the Republic of the Philippines cordially express their best wishes,” Pinto said.
Pinto mentioned Typhoon Nina that recently devastated Bicol region and left many people homeless and without jobs.
As those communities recover through their own efforts, the international community expressed solidarity to help them rebuild, he said.
“Mr. President, the word “solidarity” means much in this country and we, members of the Diplomatic Corps, feel that we are part of the Filipino people, its hospitality and its determination to face the challenges of advertising growth, adversities brought about by forces of nature or arising from events that take place,” he said.
Pinto also wished for greater progress and prosperity for the Philippines and good health and success for President Duterte and his officials.