Duterte talks about improved relations with China in speech to nation

World Today

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address on Monday. It comes amid security issues across the southern island of Mindanao.

A large part of Duterte’s speech focused on his war on drugs.

CGTN’s Chuck Tinte reports.

More than a thousand people, allies and critics alike, gathered inside the Philippine Congress on Monday. The venue was packed, security was tight, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s hands were full.

It has been a rough year since his first state of the nation address. Duterte dedicated large parts of his address to pushing his law-and-order policies. Most prominently, his controversial war on drugs. He urged lawmakers to reintroduce the death penalty.

“The fight will be unremitting, as it will be unrelenting. Despite international and local pressure, the fight will not stop. Until those who deal in it understand that they have to stop because the alternative will be either jail or hell,” Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said.

Duterte also tackled terrorism as fighting in the southern city of Marawi drags on. Clashes there with Islamic State-inspired militants have so far claimed more than 600 lives — including a hundred and five soldiers and police officers. And the battle is far from over.

In his speech, Duterte reiterated his strong commitment to the fight against terrorism in Mindanao, having secured an extension to the martial law until the end of the year.

“Sad to say, despite all peace efforts especially in the island of Mindanao, continues to elude us. But of course, it is not the peace of the dead but the peace of the living that we seek,” Duterte said.

A recent survey showed 8 out of 10 Filipinos approve of Duterte’s performance as president. But he still faces unrelenting criticism. Monday’s address was marred by protests against martial law.

Duterte’s speech wasn’t all about law and order. He also took the opportunity to report improved relations with neighboring countries, especially China.

“We have cultivated relations with China, through bilateral dialogues and mechanisms leading to easing of tensions between the two countries and improve negotiating environment on the West Philippine Sea,” Duterte said.

He added that he intends to strengthen and seek partnerships with countries who share the nation’s values, and engage other countries with full respect.

Richard Heydarian discusses Philippine President’s State of the Nation address

CGTN’s Mike Walters spoke with Asian affairs expert Richard Heydarian about Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to curb drug trafficking and insurgent attacks.