MANILA, Former president and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the United Nations (UN) and the US government not to meddle in the internal issues of the Philippines.
Estrada, who met with Duterte in Malacañang Palace Monday afternoon, pointed out that neither the UN nor the US has the right to say what the President should do, particularly on matters of national importance, such as peace and order and the anti-terror campaign in Mindanao.
“The Philippines is an independent nation. They don’t know our problems in Mindanao but they want us to stop an all-out war in Mindanao,” Estrada said in an interview with radio station DZRH Tuesday morning.
He added that the fight against drugs and the need for more rehabilitation centers were among the issues they discussed during their meeting.
Estrada recalled that when he was the country’s president, he declared an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but was asked by then US President Bill Clinton to consider halting the military operations against the Muslim secessionist rebels.
“Let’s not go along with them. This is our own internal problem,” he pointed out.
Estrada reiterated that Duterte is on the right track in fighting illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism in the country.
He pointed out that lawlessness still reigns in Mindanao because of the decades-long problem on insurgency, rebellion, terrorism, and criminality which he said Duterte is working hard to address.
“Kaya nanatiling magulo sa Mindanao, hindi umunlad ang Mindanao dahil tuloy-tuloy ang barilan, ang kidnapping. Sari-sari ang naging problema sa Mindanao. Kaya humina ang turismo. Ayaw nang pumunta rito ‘yung mga turista dahil natatakot na (Mindanao’s progress has been slow due to the shooting incidents and kidnapping. It has a range of problems that have scared off tourists),” Estrada said, noting that tourists have instead gone to Malaysia, Singapore and other countries.
He further said that peace and order are vital in keeping the Philippines economically stable because without these, “we will not progress”.
Estrada said Duterte knows what he is doing by focusing first on eliminating illegal drugs and criminality in the country.
Noting their past experience as city mayors — Duterte was mayor of Davao City for more than two decades, and Estrada of San Juan for 17 years — the latter said they share the same ideas and advocacy.
“We agreed that for a nation or a city to progress and move on, peace and order is a top priority — a number one,” he said in the interview. (PNA)