June 30, 2016. The day the country welcomed former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its 16th president.
Duterte’s victory in the 2016 polls came as a surprise to many, being the first local official to be catapulted to the presidency. He anchored his candidacy on making the Philippines a safer place by ending criminality, corruption, and illegal drugs in six months.
Now that Duterte has officially started the last lap of his six-year term of trying to give everyone comfortable lives, six individuals from different walks of life aired their sentiments and shared what they want to see and hear from the President during his final year in office.
Improved healthcare system
Wesley San Sebastian, a senior manager for customer insights and analytics of a hospital in Metro Manila, hoped to see the Duterte administration come up with a better sustainability plan for healthcare, especially since the Philippines is still grappling with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“From the highest turnover rates of nurses to the unresolved PhilHealth payor crisis, calling our healthcare system ‘unprepared’ for COVID-19 is an understatement,” he said.
Despite this, he commended the government for the efforts made specific to healthcare workers and the industry.
“Kulang pa, oo, pero frontliners would know na may ginagawa dito – kahit paano (It’s still not enough but frontliners would know that the government is making efforts to address the situation),” he said.
“We hope that PRRD’s last year in the office will not just be about firefighting the ongoing pandemic, but will also put focus on planning how to really sustain and further improve the plans for Philippine healthcare,” he added.
Continued focus on COVID-19
To college professor Glenn Parungao, he hoped that President Duterte would not lose sight of the ongoing pandemic now that the elections are drawing near.
He expressed hope that there will be a silver lining in the country’s imperfect “far-from-perfect” way of addressing the crisis.
“Alam nating ‘di mapipigilan ng pandemya ang pagtakbo ng mga kaganapan na may kaugnayan sa eleksyon, pero sana, ‘wag mawala yung atensyon sa problema ng pandemya kapag abala na ang lahat sa pangngampanya (We know that the pandemic cannot stop the events related to the elections but I hope he won’t take away his attention from the pandemic once the campaign period starts),” he said.
Parungao said how Duterte will handle the pandemic and the elections will result in how he will be remembered, noting that his last year is one of the most important for any chief executive.
“Kumbaga sa palabas, ito yung ending scene na higit na maaalala ng mga nanonood. So nasa iyo Mr. President, paano ka namin aalalahanin bilang lider ng bansa (In terms of movies, this is the ending scene that the audience will remember. So it’s up to the President how we will remember him as the leader of this country),” he said.
Protecting the media
Hajji Kaamiño, a radio reporter from Radyo Pilipinas, hoped to see Duterte putting an end to harassment and look after the welfare of media workers.
“Sa panahon ng pandemya ay kailangang manatili ang boses na magbibigay ng tamang impormasyon sa publiko (During the pandemic, we should continue to have the voice that gives the public the right information),” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaamiño said he also wanted to see the President fulfilling his promise of fighting corruption during his final year and make it part of his legacy, like the drug war and the campaign against criminality.
He also hoped for Duterte to ensure an honest and clean election next year amid the health crisis.
Freelance model/actor David Ponce de Leon hoped that President Duterte will sign into law, if not certify as urgent, a measure that would protect the rights and welfare of freelance workers in the entertainment industry before he steps down.
“Para mas may boses na kami at may benefits na. May protection na kami in case hindi mabayaran sa tamang oras (So we will have a voice and benefits as well. This will give us protection in case we are not paid at the right time),” he said.
House Bill 8817, or the proposed Freelance Workers Protection Act, hurdled the second reading at the House of Representatives in March this year. The said measure aims to advance the rights and welfare of freelancers and ensure humane working conditions and a proper living wage.
Of policies, laws, and lawyers
Lawyer Mazna Lutchavez said she hoped to hear from President Duterte updates on “the senseless killings of lawyers and prosecutors during his term.”
She also wished to to see the divorce law put into effect and to hear updates on foreign policy regarding the West Philippine Sea.
To communications student Gabriel Tongco, he wanted to see President Duterte assume responsibility for the mistakes in handling the pandemic. However, he said he doesn’t see this happening.
“I want to at least see him admit the mistakes he made while in office, especially how the pandemic was handled, but seeing how, openly, his administration usually blames citizens first before themselves, it’s not exactly something I can see happening,” he said.
Facebook users weigh in
Hundreds of Facebook users likewise shared their thoughts on what they expect from Duterte during his last year in office.
Facebook user Lili Ching hoped for “more severe monitoring on corrupt officials” and “less temperamental words” in his speeches because it makes him cruel to many. Netizen Bio Pop also hoped that the President will actually put corrupt officials behind bars.
Celeste Lim hoped Duterte to “make peace with the several thousand who [were] killed on his war on drugs.”
Meanwhile, many Facebook users said they were not really expecting President Duterte to do anything more. They agreed that he will tell “more lies” and “more curses.”