President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bows before the barangay officials during the Peace and Order Summit for Barangay Officials held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City, Albay on February 8, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Legazpi City — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, February 8, ordered members of his Cabinet to stay neutral in the midterm polls in a bid to quash allegations that state funds would be used during the campaign period.

During the Peace and Order Summit for Barangay Officials here, the Chief Executive pledged that members of the Armed Forces and the police would be strictly non-partisan and that government workers would not be allowed “to do some campaigning for or against anybody.”

“The Cabinet members… sinabi ko sa kanila, though the law allows you to campaign just like the President, but I would insist na huwag kayong makialam,” the President said in his speech.

“Because not only would they bring so many issues with them, pati na ‘yung sabihin ninyo na ginamit ‘yung gasolina, ginamit ‘yung sakyan ng gobyerno, ‘yung eroplano. So just to do away with those issues and to make it really equal for all, nobody uses government property or funds because that is not allowed by law,” he explained.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the Peace and Order Summit for Barangay Officials held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City, Albay on February 8, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

For his part, Duterte said he would be campaigning for his candidates but reiterated that “it’s going to be a very, very limited activity.”

Expressing his desire to limit the proliferation of guns during the midterm elections, President Duterte underscored that no politicians should go around with long firearms.

“And I expect everybody not to be carrying too much — one too many firearms. You’d be limited to two [men] in uniform,” he said, adding that these would be provided by the police.

“Any politician, whether for or against me or my administration, are bound by the same limitations of [the] law. That is the Alunan doctrine which I am adopting because it is good for the country,” he added.

At the same time, President Duterte urged communist rebels to respect Filipinos who would be exercising their right to vote on May 13.

“Kayo pa naman — kayong mga komunistang nakikinig, if you really find it in your heart to be a participant of an exercise of the people to choose their candidate, kindly do not mess up with it. If you still want me or maybe hoping to talk to me, with the remaining three years, I’d like you to honor this tradition of our people,” he said.

“Hindi na bale sabihin nila na parang aso ang ugali niyan. That is none of your business because if it is the will of the people…that’s democracy. Wala tayong magawa,” the President said.

Likewise, the Chief Executive appealed to the insurgents to stop their extortion activities.

“Ang mga NPA…kayo nakikinig kayo ngayon, kung gusto talaga ninyong tumulong, stop the extortion. You will have to stop extorting money and ‘yung taxation ninyo,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Duterte noted that he graced the summit here in order to talk to the barangay leaders.

“You know, pinuntahan ko dito, in the hope that maybe my presence, however short, however brief, I can talk to the leaders and say do not do it because if you will do it, away ang abutin mo sa akin. And if you become a very violent person, then I will confront you personally kasi trabaho ko ‘yan. Gusto ko lang tabla,” he said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government, in coordination with the Regional Peace and Order Council V, held the summit to educate the barangay officials about their role in attaining lasting peace in their communities.

Balikbayan Media Center
Balikbayan Media Center

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