PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte hosted Wednesday morning the traditional "Vin d'Honneur" at the Malacañang Palace, inviting the country's leaders and the diplomatic community to join him in a toast welcoming 2017 with hope “for the positive and meaningful change for the Philippines and all our peoples.”
The President, in a message before the traditional New Year toast, reiterated his promise to rid the Filipino people of drug problem, corruption in government, criminality and armed conflict.
“When I assumed the presidency six months ago, I suddenly pledged to lead my country and my people. I vowed to address three basic evils that subjected my people, especially the poorest and the disenfranchised to the most unbearable burdens of slavery, four million of them [linked] to drugs, corruption, criminality and a revolution in the South,” Duterte said.
“I say to you all now that sacred vow remains unchanged. I say true to the mandate reposed on me. The administration will remain firm in its resolve to hold the corrupt accountable for their deeds. We will make criminals responsible for their action and we will work very, very hard to finally break the apparatus of the illegal drugs trade,” he added.
With apparent rift with the administration, Vice President Leni Robredo snubbed the Palace's traditional New Year reception.
The traditional toasting of wine was attended by heaps of Cabinet members, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Public Works and Highway Mark Villar, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
However, only a few lawmakers shared a toast with the President. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III came with Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Cynthia Villar.
Also spotted at the reception were some influential ambassadors, such as United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, and Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev.
Duterte said before the international community that his administration valued its partners as it seeks to strengthen existing ties with other countries and pursue new ones.
He said he wished for "deeper and more meaningful engagements with our partners and friends."
“We believe that friends help each other and utilize constructive engagement, to achieve common goals. In truth, we all share the same aspiration of greater peace, progress and prosperity,” the chief executive said.
“Friendship, after all, knows no bound. The Philippines has and will continue to build on our friendship, founded on a common objective, shared values and time honored principles of international law. Let us together work to further expand areas of mutual beneficial collaboration,” Duterte added. (Sunnex)