Bacolod City Public Plaza, Negros Occidental
October 2, 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the opening of the 37th Annual Masskara Festival at the Bacolod City Public Plaza in Negros Occidental.

“I’d like to serve everybody, irrespective of (political) party,” the President began.

He continued, “Pinangako ko to erase corruption, I think I am succeeding… sa national government. And I know Bacolod City is ran by good people with good intentions.”

He discussed the administration’s promises, particularly the removal of government red tape, such as reducing the processing time of documents to only three (3) days.

He also talked about government being strict towards crime, especially on illegal drugs. He said, “I don’t have any sentiment towards human rights, they’re just doing their jobs. But I have to keep my people alive.”

The President elaborated on the current budget of his administration, saying that starting his term midway into the year meant that they are working on the budget prepared by the previous administration. He added that this is not enough to put into rehabilitation the three to four million Filipino drug addicts identified by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

He stressed that if the drug problem would not be stopped under his term, the next Commander-in-Chief must interdict immediately. “Put up a hard line so as not to affect future generations,” President Duterte said.

He talked about the issue regarding the Jewish community, saying, “There was never an intention on my part to derogate the memories of six million Jewish people. I apologize profoundly and deeply to the Jewish community.”

On the road to achieve peace, he discussed the ongoing peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

He ended his talk by inviting the people of Bacolod City to visit his hometown of Davao City.

The Masskara Festival started back in 1980, a tragic year due to a maritime accident that took the lives of 700 Filipinos from Negros Occidental and other provinces. A crisis on the province’s main export, sugar, worsened the tragedy. Determined to prove that theirs is a City of Smiles, the people of Bacolod created the Masskara Festival to pull their people through tragedy and to bring about positive change.

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