Updated 11:46 AM PHT Thu, January 12, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday hosted his first Vin D'Honneur for almost a hundred members of the diplomatic corps.
In his speech, the President reiterated his earlier "sacred" promises to end the "three basic evils" affecting Filipinos — the illegal drug trade, corruption, criminality and unrest in Mindanao.
"I say to you all now that sacred vow remains unchanged. I stay true to the mandate reposed on me," Duterte said.
"The administration will remain firm in its resolve to hold the corrupt accountable for their deeds. We will make criminals responsible for their actions and we will work very, very hard to finally break the apparatus of the illegal drugs trade," he added.
The President also assured that the Philippines will strengthen existing friendships as it pursues new ones.
"The Philippines has and will continue to build on our friendship founded on a common objective, shared values and time honored principles of international law," Duterte said.
Duterte also asked for the international community's support, as the Philippines take on chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which is celebrating its 50th year.
The Philippines will advance the regional development agenda of forging a rules-based community "that puts citizens' welfare at the heart of every initiative," he said.
There was a laughter at the end of the President's short speech, when he ended his toast with the Japanese word "Kanpai! Bottoms up!" ["Cheers!"]
"So be careful with this... Our Asian brothers and sisters, when they say 'kampai,' say, 'No, just half of the kanpai,'" said Duterte.
His excellency Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and the Holy See's representative to the Philippines, extended well wishes to Duterte and his administration.
"There is no nation nor people that does not long for tranquility and security. Therefore, initiatives for peace multiply and open the way to development," Pinto said in his toast.
VP Robredo's invite to Vin D'Honneur withdrawn
Vice President Leni Robredo's was not present at the Vin D'Honneur.
Robredo's spokesperson Georgina Hernandez said they received an invitation for Robredo via email last December 28 but the invite was taken back.
"On January 4, Malacañang called the Office to retract the invitation," Hernandez said in a statement.
According to Hernandez, Malacañang told them that the guest list was "limited."
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said it was the prerogative of the President — to invite only those who they feel is needed to be there."
CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and AC Nicholls contributed to this report.