Duterte assures South Korean businessmen of safety in PH
SEOUL — President Rodrigo Duterte promised South Korean businessmen on Tuesday that they would be safe when they visit the Philippines and asked that he be given until the end of the year to ensure their safety through a reorganization of the Philippine National Police.
“I assure you there will be law and order [in the Philippines],” the President said in a speech to businessmen where he thanked South Korea for donating 133 motor vehicles to the PNP.
The kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in the Philippines in October 2016 allegedly by policemen strained relations between Manila and Seoul.
Jee was strangled in his own vehicle at Camp Crame, headquarters of the PNP, in Quezon City.
Problem with police
The President stopped reading his prepared speech at the Philippine-Korean Business Forum at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul to discuss what he called “a lot of misgivings about the law and order situation in the Philippines.”
He did not cite the case of Jee but acknowledged that there were past incidents “that did not augur well for people to even consider the Philippines as an investment area.”
The President also acknowledged that, like other countries, the Philippines had a law and order problem, “including my own national police.”
He said he had a new secretary of the interior as well as a new PNP chief and indicated that he would reorganize the police force.
“For those of you who come to the Philippines, [you’re] coming with our guarantee that you’ll be safe and sound. Give me time. Maybe toward the end of the year, I should have reorganized the PNP,” the President said.
He warned that he would “go to the extreme” if necessary to make good his assurance to the South Korean businessmen.
“I do not want to do it. But I said, if you box me in a wall and compromise the general welfare of my people and country, I will go for it,” the President said, without elaborating.
He also said crimes happened, especially in places where there was gambling and where those who borrowed money and could not repay it got “butchered by their own compatriots.”
The President said his administration’s actions were only for the “bad guys.”
“If you are a law-abiding citizen of a country who wants to be more rich and you are handsome, you will be protected. I will see to that,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
He also promised to make opening up businesses in the Philippines easier not only through legislation but also by putting a stop to corruption in the government.
The President also promised the South Korean businessmen that they could see him to complain if “anybody in government delays your papers, investments or otherwise.”
He also warned Filipinos who would hinder foreign investment by asking for bribes that he would go after them “and if I find it necessary, I said, maybe I will kill you.”
The President wrapped up his three-day official visit to South Korea by witnessing the signing of 23 business agreements between Manila and Seoul valued at $4.858 billion, which Filipino officials said would generate 50,800 jobs in the Philippines.
In a news conference, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said he thanked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Kim Dong-yeon for the $1 billion in official development assistance that South Korea gave to the Philippines, which was double the previous aid.
Dominguez said funds had already been allocated for four projects in the government’s infrastructure program.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.