By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY --- President Rodrigo Duterte said he discovered the beauty of the Philippines when he toured the entire country as a member of the On Any Sunday Rider Club when he was still mayor of Davao.
“And it was only after I travelled the entire length and breadth of the country that I fell in love with the Philippines. Kaganda ng bayan natin,” Duterte told some 2,300 members of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines(NFMCP) during their 24th National Convention held at Peñaranda Park here Saturday evening.
“And my most memorable photo of that event when I was [still] mayor was myself standing on a piece of rock -- I still had flat stomach that time – with Mayon in the background.”
A post from the website of On Any Sunday Rider Club said “President Duterte was a true blooded rider having ridden from Davao City to Aparri.”
Duterte said Senator JV Ejercito and others joined him in the Legazpi convention because they were also big bike enthusiasts.
“We are deeply honored by your presence tonight and we are surprised that you came here to grace the special occasion of the bikers,” Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara told the President.
He told the participants “you are lucky because for the first time in the history of the Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines the President of the Republic of the Philippines came.”
This shows deep affection of the President to the bikers association, Bichara added.
“I was informed by Mr. Mata that you were one of the founders of this federation and you were attending some of the conventions when you were Mayor of Davao City.”
“The big difference is now you are the President of the Philippines and [yet] you are still part of this special occasion,” Bichara added.
Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal welcomed President Duterte and all the members of NFMCP for visiting the `City of Fun and Adventure.’
Rosal said hosting the event is another milestone in local tourism industry.
“This is a great honor for all Legazpiños and Albayanos to host this three-day national convention,” Rosal said.
“After the Mayon eruption, I would like to grab this opportunity to thank President Duterte for helping the evacuees which enabled us to achieve zero casualty,” said Rosal.
He said the city and the provincial government worked together to ensure that all the participants will enjoy their stay as they visited various tourist attractions in the city and in nearby sites.
“I wish the bikers to return to Legazpi City and we are always ready to take care of you,” said Rosal.
Six Days Peace Talk
President Duterte said he is willing to talk to the enemies of the state to achieve peace.
“I am talking to Sison now even in an on and off thing and the military and the police might be unforgiving ,” said Duterte.
“I am telling you I am not a President-solider and I am not also President who is a policeman. My duty and my fundamental basic thing is to see to it that my country is peaceful,” he said.
“Just recently I created a small window 60 days proposal to Jose Maria Sison . I need not go there but I invite you to come here and I will answer your travelling including fare, billeting and food,” the President said.
He also assured the safety of New People’s Army rebels during the peace talks.
“Those members of the guerilla fronts can designate a place where you can keep your firearms and inform us where you are and are free to go anywhere you want without carrying arms,” the President said referring to the rebels.
“And I will give you complete freedom to move. Wala akong momolestyahin and I will order the military and the police to be nice to you.”
“Take advantage of that 6o days if it succeeds and I would like to thank God first and the Filipino people and the military and the police for their understanding.”
“But I cannot forever say that to the MNLF,” Duterte sadi.
He emphasized the threat of terrorism remains very high.
“We are not fighting against our Moro brothers. My lola was a Maranao and we are not making any problem for anybody except the problem with the ISIS,” the President said.
“I will be harsh with the ISIS. And this group will kill civilians and everything.”
“I will say it once it will bring the worse in me. Lalabas talaga ... kaya I cannot stop you then at makikita mo ang tutuo kung pagkatao.”
“Let us just respect each other but the civilians who are not part of the conflict should be respected,” he said.
Jose Martial Villanueva, NFMCP president, said some 2,300 members of the federation joined the three-day national convention.
President Duterte also viewed the various big bikes displayed at the upper floor of Albay public library after the picture taking.
“We have some 700 bikers coming from Mindanao and another 700 from the Visayas and the rest from Luzon,” said Villanueva.
The bikers brought with them their BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha big motorcycles.
NFMCP officers, the Bicol Steel Horses officers, as well as the Luzon, Visayas and Mindano Federation Officers, On Any Sunday Rider Club and 2019 NFMCP host Iloilo had a picture taking with President Duterte.
Meanwhile, a participant of the 24th National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines died in a motorcycle accident Saturday afternoon in Barangay Ariman in Gubat, Sorsogon.
Jose Albacto Santos Tanseco, 63, a resident of 1453 Calambang St. in Dasmarińas Village in Makati City with driver license N11-87-036766 was driving his BMW XR (51000) color blue along the national highway from Barcelona, Sorsogon to Gubat, Sorsogon when he accidentally slid off and hit a concrete street light and sustained injuries, according to Senior Inspector Malou Calubaquib, Bicol PNP spokesperson.
Reports said the motorcycle slid over a slippery road caused by a drizzle on the highway.
The injured big biker was immediately brought to Gubat District Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician.