By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang assured the public that President Duterte will continue to do his best to give the Filipinos a more comfortable life, saying that while he has already accomplished so much, the best is still to come.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement as Duterte celebrates the third year of his presidency on June 30.
In his statement, Panelo said that the Palace joins the public in celebrating the third anniversary of Duterte as the country’s 16th president. He added that while Duterte has already achieved so much in just three years, people can still expect more from the Chief Executive.
“We join the Filipino people as they celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte as our country’s 16th President. The President’s record as the Philippines’ Chief Executive speaks for itself,” he said.
“Much has been done in the past three years. The Filipino people can expect the same number of significant achievements, if not more, in the remainder of the President’s term. Even as the majority of the Filipinos are in awe of PRRD’s accomplishments, the best is still to come,” he added.
Peace and order
Panelo said that halfway through his term, President Duterte has attained “countless and incomparable feats” including reducing the crime rate, dismantling illegal drug apparatus and rehabilitating drug personalities who voluntarily surrendered, and initiating strategies and measures to thwart the local communist rebellion from spreading and crushing attempts of terrorism originating from different parts of the globe.
Uplifting general welfare
While Duterte has given priority to the improvement of the country’s law and order, Panelo said the President also laid the foundation that will propel the nation to progress and reach new heights.
“With an unprecedented political will, genuine empathy as well as a relentless resolve to uplift the general welfare of the people, he signed long-pending bills into laws, [and] issued executive measures,” Panelo said.
Panelo cited, as examples, the laws for free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation to farmers, free internet access in public places, institutionalization of feeding programs for public school students, and universal health care program.
He also enumerated the measures for free medicines and financial support to indigent patients, mandatory Philhealth coverage for persons with disabilities (PWDs), huge and unparalleled subsidies in favor of government hospitals, increase of SSS pensions for seniors, improvement of the wages of government employees, doubling the salaries of soldiers, policemen, jail officers and firemen, prohibition on illegal labor subcontracting resulting in the regularization of hundreds of thousands of workers, and establishment of work-from-home arrangements.
“The Chief Executive also signed into laws and proposed measures aimed at reducing poverty, e.g. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and the Magna Carta of the Poor, to uplift the standard of living of those belonging to the underprivileged class of our society,” Panelo said.
“The President has likewise distributed Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries and farmers. He has consistently pushed Congress to legislate for the return of the coco levy fund in favor of coconut farmers through a trust fund,” he added.
Panelo also mentioned that the Duterte administration has repatriated thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) affected by Amnesty Programs implemented by several countries.
“For the returning OFWs, they were provided with training and livelihood assistance for their reintegration. An Overseas Filipino Bank was also established to provide efficient remittance services, low service rates and profitable offers to OFWs,” he said.
Duterte also eliminated the “tanim bala” scam in the airports in his initial weeks in office, issued an order on freedom of information for its strict compliance by the Executive Department, created a task force on media security, cut red tape in the government, implemented a nationwide smoking ban in public places through an executive order, and froze the proliferation of online gambling and ordered a halt to the construction of new casinos.
Staying true to his promise to curb corruption in government, Panelo said Duterte has fired military and high officials in the government for corruption or incompetence, even including his longtime friends and allies.
The Palace has also responded to all letters addressed to Malacañang by referring them to various departments, offices or agencies for immediate action. It also launched hotlines for emergencies (911) and citizens’ complaints (8888), and reduced government spending.
Modesty and altruism
Duterte also exemplified humility by prohibiting government officials to use luxury cars and air travels in business class, and scrapping junket foreign travels of government officials, among others.
He has also exemplified modesty in public service by forbidding the hanging of his portrait in all government offices and serving inexpensive and simple food in government social events.
The Chief Executive has demonstrated altruism by visiting soldiers regularly to boost their morale; and attending the wakes of slain soldiers, policemen, and other law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty and taking care of their grieving families.
According to Panelo, Duterte made the Philippines one of the strongest economies and growth leaders in the region, by changing its business climate that prompted the influx of foreign investments thereby ushering the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the country with his Build Build Build Program.
Under Duterte’s leadership, Panelo said the Philippines earned the highest credit rating in our economic history with a BBB+ upgrade from global debt watcher Standard and Poor’s.
The President has similarly intensified revenue collections of the government to new record-highs, including the collection of around P6 billion from Philippine Airlines for overdue navigational fees, and the landmark settlement by the government of about P40 billion with Mighty Corporation for its failure to pay excise taxes.
Panelo noted that Duterte also pursued an independent foreign policy by removing the country’s subservience to the West.
“Notable effects of which are the return of the historic Balangiga bells from the United States, and the reshipment of trash back to Canada, while improving our relations with all other countries, such as Russia, China and those belonging in the Southeast Asian region,” he said.
Duterte also strengthened local domestic regions, such as the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to transform Mindanao from “an island of promise” to “an island of fulfillment.”
“After the successful plebiscite that established the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the normalization under the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro is now on track,” Panelo said.