By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has called on the country’s Asian neighbors to “band together” to survive a possible global economic slowdown as well as thwart the threat of terrorism and piracy at sea.
The President pushed for regional cooperation to overcome the economic and security challenges during the 25th anniversary of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) in Davao City.
“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 (face) a bad level and I hope we can survive it,” Duterte said in his remarks.
The President said the four neighbors must also remain on guard to combat terrorists and other lawless elements in their common seas.
“We are doing commerce (but) our Navies must be vigilant. We have to be one in our patrols,” he said.
Duterte said he has already directed the Philippine Navy to blast the pirates out of regional waters. He said these pirates have “no souls.”
“Let me be very clear to the heads of state, my orders to the Navy to blast them off the earth. If there are pirates in our territory or in the high seas, my orders are to blast them to kingdom come,” he said.
He said in the case of terrorists, justice seemed to be an “illusion” or “a mirage floating in the sea” since they go scot free due to lack of witnesses. “These pirates, they have no souls I assure you, just like me. I’m telling the military forces to finish them all,” he said.
BIMP-EAGA, launched in 1994, is a sub-regional economic cooperation aimed to spur economic development in the underdeveloped and remote areas in the four member countries.
The BIMP-EAGA anniversary also coincided with the 9th anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority.
The President, meantime, has lauded the Mindanao Development Authority for the success of its mission to build a stronger and more progressive Mindanao.
“As the primary coordinating agency in the affairs of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines –East ASEAN Growth Area, you have played an invaluable role in the implementation of viable socio-economic programs in the region, especially as we enter a new period of peace and development with the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” he said.
He also pushed for closer economic cooperation to create more viable opportunities in trade and investment, transportation, agri-business, tourism, energy, and environmental protection and management, among others, not only in the region but in the entire BIMP-EAGA corridor.
“Rest assured that this administration will remain resolute in building the capacity of our local government units to deliver excellent public service and promote good governance, especially in Mindanao,” he said.