With flying colors: Duterte gets passing rate from Cabinet's security cluster

Published July 21, 2021, 5:18 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Five years into his leadership, President Duterte’s efforts to ensure peace and order in the country proved to be effective so far as he obtained a passing grade from his Cabinet men on Wednesday, July 21.

In this file photo taken on April 21, 2020, a member of the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces uses a megaphone to remind shoppers to practice social distancing during a government imposed enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairperson of the administration’s Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster (SJPC), gave Duterte a rating of 90 percent when asked how he would grade the President in terms of securing the country.

“As far as the Department of National Defense [DND] is concerned, ang rating ni President siguro is 90 percent (I think the President’s rating would be 90 percent),” Lorenzana said at the third leg of the 2021 pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum which features the accomplishments of the SJPC.

Lorenzana said the Duterte administration’s efforts to modernize the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) greatly helped the SJPC’s task of protecting the country from internal and external threats.

“Nadagdagan niya ang mga equipment ng ating mga sundalo (He procured additional equipment for our soldiers),” said the Defense Chief.

Among the latest acquisitions of the military through the modernization program include two missile capable frigates — the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151); six close air support aircraft, and 16 combat utility helicopters.

These new assets were already being used for territorial defense, counter-insurgency, peace-keeping, and humanitarian and disaster response (HADR) operations.

Lorenzana also said that Duterte has a “good” strategy in its campaign against insurgency and terrorism.

“Siguro ang dapat pang magawa sa kanyang administration ay dagdagan ang nabiling equipment dahil kailangan pa natin ‘yan lalo na ang mga barko at eroplano (Perhaps what he can do more under his administration is to procure more equipment because we really need it especially the ships and airplanes),” he stressed.

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. gave Duterte a rate of 8.7 out of 10 or 87 percent.

“I would gladly rate the President at 8.7 or 87. That’s more than the approval ratings of the President in the surveys, 8.7,” Esperon said when asked the same question.

Among the most important things that Duterte did to maintain the security and peace and order in the country is the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2018 and the establishment of its flagship project, the Barangay Development Program (BDP).

Esperon hopes that the next administration would continue the gains by the NTF-ELCAC and the BDP under the administration of Duterte.

Through the anti-communist task force, Esperon said 2,965 communist rebels were neutralized during encounters and law enforcement operations. Among them were key leaders of the Communist PArty of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

“The keyword here is continuity and more intensity. We have the programs, we simply have to continue and be more intense and that’s what we are doing right now. I think we have the formula. All we need is to continue this,” he said.