(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte thanked and welcomed members of the diplomatic community in the country in the first vin d’honneur under his administration, and expressed his hope that “we can all act together to preserve mankind.”
“There’s a lot to do for this world,” he said in a side remark after giving a toast in Malacanang to the chiefs of the diplomatic missions and international organizations.
“I hope we can get together, act together just to preserve mankind,” he added.
Before this, he assured the diplomatic community that the Philippine government would continue its development goals, as well as protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country as he leads the nation to “meaningful change.”
“We welcome 2017 with hope for meaningful change,” the President said at the start of his speech at the Palace’s Rizal Hall.
He said he would continue his “sacred vow” to lead the country, and eliminate the basic evils ailing the Philippines — corruption, criminality and illegal drugs — as he pursues lasting peace in Mindanao and for the whole nation.
–Duterte highlights Philippines’ international role –
“The administration remains firm in its resolve to hold the corrupt accountable for their deeds,” the President said. “We will make criminals responsible for their actions and we will work very, very hard to finally break the apparatus of the illegal drugs trade.”
“In so doing, we affirm our commitment to bring about the change that my country and my people deserve,” he said as he stressed that the country is willing to do what must be done “consistent with our constitutional mandate.”
President Duterte said that he had already started instituting genuine reforms “to encourage more trade and investments, to intensify commercial activities, to ramp up investments and much needed infrastructure, increase revenues to make communities more resilient, and to improve basic social services.”
He also stressed that his administration 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,” referring to the war waged by communist insurgents.
He said that “these changes are vital to make the Philippines a stronger republic,” he said.
“Know that the Philippines is doing its part in addressing the challenges we face together as an international community – the scourge of terrorism, natural and human-induced calamities, transnational crimes, hunger and poverty, and international disputes.”
“Indeed, as we strive to be stronger at our core, we hope to do more not just for our own people, but for our region and for the world,” said Mr. Duterte addressing members of the diplomatic corps.
He stressed that the “Philippines contends with the realities that are our own.
-Philippines values existing friendships, as it pursues new ones —
The President said that his government also values its partners and friends, but is also intent in making new alliances.
“We value partners as we strengthen existing friendships even as we pursue new ones. We believe that friends help each other and utilize constructive engagements to achieve common goals,” he said.
“In truth, we all share the same aspiration of greater peace, progress and prosperity. In a world that recognizes our interconnectedness and respect each other’s sovereign independence, the horizon and frontiers of cooperation are virtually limitless,” Mr. Duterte said. “Friendship after all knows no bounds.”
The President also appealed to the members of the diplomatic corps that they “work together” with the country “to expand areas of mutual beneficial collaboration.”
This year, he said, the Philippines takes on the leadership role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “with renewed fervor, a sense of purpose.”
-PHL to work for regional dev’t agenda as ASEAN chair this year —
He said that as the ASEAN chair, the Philippines would work for a “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.
In his toast, President Duterte said he “wished for deeper and more meaningful engagements with our partners and friends.”
“Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, Mabuhay kayong lahat and mabuhay to the league of nations,” he said.
“To your success, your excellencies…. Kampai! Bottoms up!” he added, eliciting light-hearted laughter from his audience.
There were around a hundred people who attended the President’s first Vin d’ Honneur, including ambassadors, cabinet members, lawmakers and heads of government agencies. Vice-President Leni Robredo, however, was not around.
Before the event, the President, together with Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., personally welcomed each member of the diplomatic community as they arrived at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang.
The term Vin d’Honneur is a French phrase that means “wine of honor.” In the Philippines, the practice has become primarily a diplomatic event and features a toast exchanged between the President and the Papal Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, for the prosperity of the nation and well being of the Filipino people.
This New Year’s Vin d’Honneur is the first of two Vin d’Honneur receptions held annually in the country. The second reception will take place on June 12 on the occasion of the Philippine independence.
(Eagle News Service)