Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos at the Declaration of Davao Region as Insurgency-Free and Relaunching of Davao Region as Tourism and Investment-Ready Destination
Thank you very much, Vice President Sara Duterte. [Please take your seats.] The members of the Cabinet present here with us today; Davao Oriental Governor and RDC Council Chairperson Corazon Malanyaon and other government officials of the province; my fellow workers in government; our men and women in uniform; ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
What we celebrate today is a significant milestone. It is significant because it marks the collective victory of the government together with various sectors that work together towards attaining peace and security in the Davao Region.
We must be all proud and happy knowing that the Davao Region has been declared as insurgency-free by the Davao Regional Peace and Order Council.
An important day indeed, it is one noteworthy achievement not only for Davaoeños, but for every Filipino as well. It is a victory which proves there is no place for extremism and senseless violence anywhere in the Philippines.
We must of course acknowledge the efforts of our men and women in uniform, particularly the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for ensuring the protection and security of our people through your various civil and military operations. [applause] Congratulations!
We must also recognize the efforts of our LGUs, our various government agencies, and law enforcement authorities in the region for supporting the NTF-ELCAC by improving public safety and implementing programs that improved the living conditions of all.
In many ways, the program NTF-ELCAC has been around for a long time in different forms. During the Vietnam War, it was called the Doctrine of Hearts and Minds. Later on, it was still always referred to — earlier than that, we used to call it in government civic action, from the military.
But the NTF-ELCAC added many new dimensions to the concept. And that whole-of-nation concept that was attached to the NTF-ELCAC was I think what brought us success.
Because instead of the rebel returnee or even the rebel fighter — instead of them only dealing with the military, now they deal with the entire government. And whatever it is that the government can give, that one is what we will give to those who are in need and to take away the reason for them to continue fighting against the government.
So to those men and women who are part of that very important effort, your patriotism, your sacrifice, [and] your commitment to the ideals of peace have yielded successful and fruitful results.
Now, the people in the region, especially those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, will reap the full benefits of the peace for which all of you have been responsible.
And so I say this to our armed forces, that we must see these developments that perhaps in a way we can say that the armed forces, the uniformed forces in our country, your mission has shifted, it has changed a little bit.
Whereas before, we asked you to be war fighters. Now, we ask you to be bringers of peace. And the success of the NTF-ELCAC program and all of the efforts of our military, of our police have shown in the reaping of the benefits that we celebrate today that the Davao provinces are insurgency-free. [applause]
Moving forward, we take an optimistic but cautious steps to mind that the goal of achieving long-lasting peace and order in the region cannot end just with this declaration.
We will need to sustain it with the whole-of-nation approach to peace and development to prevent terrorist and lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping, and regaining power over our countrymen.
We cannot afford to go back to square one.
Thus, I call on our armed forces, government agencies, LGUs, and communities to continue working together to seize the gains in the region and ensure that we will carry this momentum towards the future.
To celebrate this victory, I believe that there is no better way to commemorate the eradication of insurgency in Davao than to declare the region as a tourism and investment-ready destination. [applause]
In many ways, we have relaunched Davao as a tourism and investment destination. And I say that because in truth, Davao with its very active and vibrant economy, and the businesses who have been leading the way in Mindanao and do better than the national averages, have always been there.
However, we have always had to deal with the security problem that was holding progress back. So peace and progress always go hand-in-hand. One cannot do without the other as both elements are essential to create an environment that is able to thrive and reach its full potential amidst our rapidly changing world.
This declaration serves as a timely platform to once again boost Davao’s post-pandemic economic growth and leverage the region’s abundant resources and opportunities.
As Mindanao’s largest economy, the Davao Region will play an important role in this march of the entire country towards prosperity.
It must also maintain its stature as a beacon of progress, where many facets of our landscapes and culture will be shared for those who will set foot
on this rich land.
It is my hope that all the things you have achieved here in Davao can also be replicated across the country.
This way, we can reproduce our shared success a hundred-fold, allowing our fellow countrymen to reap the benefits of safety and prosperity for present and future generations to come.
So as we go forward into the New Normal, let us continue working together to revitalize the economy towards high growth and reverse the trends of recent years.
Over the past two years, the Davao Region has suffered great setbacks as we all have — these brought about by the pandemic — we have seen more than 61 percent decline in registered investments and as much as 70 percent decrease in tourist arrivals.
But I am confident that with this declaration and with the convergence of all the efforts of the stakeholders, I am confident that we can reverse that trend and I think that upon hearing some of the briefings that I had earlier today, I think you already have begun to reverse the trend and usher in a new era of growth and opportunity for our people. [applause]
And I think that we can say with a greater level of confidence that we have heard countless times that Mindanao is the land of promise. Now, let us begin to fulfill that promise.
Thank you and good afternoon. [applause]
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SOURCE: OPS-PND (Presidential News Desk)