Duterte’s alter egos talk about their proudest moments as Secretaries

Published July 24, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Krizette Laureta-Chu

Are we better off now than five years ago? As President Duterte prepares for his final SONA, his cabinet secretaries look back on their proudest achievements and look forward to many more things to accomplish in this last stretch.

Sec. Berna Romulo Puyat, Department of Tourism

There are two significant achievements of the DOT that I want to highlight when I came in. In 2019, we exceeded our year’s target with 8.26 foreign visitors and 110 million domestic trips. This was our industry’s best performing year, which employed 5.7 million people.

Another proud accomplishment would be our “Unqualified Opinion” rating from COA for FY 2019, the highest audit rating received since 2009. This rating shows the integrity and accountability that we’ve always aimed to uphold in the DOT, and this is a legacy that I want the Department to continue achieving in the years to come.

There is still much to achieve as we enter the last year of this administration. The most important one would be the inclusive revival and recovery of the tourism industry in light of the pandemic.

The DOT has been pushing for the vaccination of more tourism workers in order to make traveling safer, while restoring confidence to travelers.

Coupled with the DOT’s Tourism Response and Recovery Plan, which protects tourism stakeholders while working toward recovery, and the continuous support of our partner national agencies, LGUs, private stakeholders, and local communities, we will able to come out of this situation stronger.

*****

Sec. Mark Villar, Department of Public Works and Highways

Since President Duterte assumed position, DPWH has completed a total of 29,264 kilometers of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood control projects, 222 evacuation centers, 89 Tatag ng Imprastraktura Para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad (TIKAS) projects, 150,149 classrooms, and 653 COVID-19 facilities under the “Build, Build, Build” program. We have created a masterplan that would transcend this generation and increase connectivity in 81 provinces, 122 cities, and 1,488 municipalities. In the past five years, we have provided jobs to 6.5 million Filipinos. Now, parents are able to spend more time with their children, farmers have better access to markets, Filipinos spend less time on the road, and more with their families and friends.

*****

Sec. Art Tugade, Department of Transportation

I believe that more than the tangible assets and infrastructure projects that we were able to fast track in the last five years, what we will be most proud of is how we were able to develop and inculcate among our employees a culture that is accountable, transparent, and transformative. This is the achievement that I believe will impact how we serve the people and deliver on our mandate to its fullest. Since taking the helm as the Transportation secretary, I would like to believe I have become an instrument of change to lead the DOTr and its attached agencies to a culture of genuine public service and corporate efficiency.

For the past five years, I strived to train my people to be “corporate gladiators.” And by “corporate gladiators,” I mean working with urgency, intent, and honesty. One execution of this shared culture is the value of punctuality, which I consider as a strong foundation to success. Another is our uncompromising drive against corruption. If you’re proven corrupt, I will make sure you will suffer the consequences.

Lastly, because of these values and culture, the men and women of DOTr were able to establish a strong foundation, which will be their foothold amid criticisms, setbacks, and challenges. I am confident that no matter what comes their way, even when I leave, they will remain unshaken and undaunted.

To tell you honestly, it is the continuation of that culture that I want to continue moving forward. If we can maintain these important factors that we have established in the DOTr, I believe that the efficient execution of results will follow. And the results I am pertaining to are the projects, programs, and initiatives of the agency.

*****

Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Department of National Defense

I consider the acquisition of more military equipment and capital assets as among our biggest achievements at the DND. I also take pride in the government’s success in gradually ending the communist insurgency and the local terrorist groups. As human resource is the most important asset of any organization, we’re modernizing not just our military’s equipment, but more importantly our recruitment and training system, capacitating the men and women of the One Defense Team to learn best practices on new tools and technologies, and harness them to better secure the nation and serve the Filipino people.

Hoping to leave the DND a better organization than I first found it, I hope to leave a legacy in terms of having a more coherent and far-reaching national defense strategy, a rationalized organizational structure that will be proactive to future needs and challenges, more brand new capital equipment and assets, and improved human resources. Last but not least, with the help of the Congress and the people, we hope to be able to pass strategic legislation that would strengthen and stabilize AFP’s leadership and support system as well as increase national investment toward defense expenditure. Security and development are on the same side of a coin. Securing the nation is one of the most essential elements of inclusive growth and national development.

*****

Sec. Eduardo Año, Department of the Interior and Local Government

Our peace and order and public safety environment improved immensely as we won the anti-crime, anti-illegal drugs drives. Crime volume continued its downtrend the last five years. This has led to the Philippines being one of Top 50 countries in the 2020 Gallup’s Global Law and Order Report with an index score of 84/100. We exacted greater performance and accountability from our local officials. Through the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG), we scaled up LGU performance metrics as a way of pushing LGUs to excel in their work. We also saw how LGUs worked alone and in unison with the national government in addressing COVID and its related/associated problems. On the other hand, we investigated and filed cases against erring local officials for  corruption and for failure to meet the standards  of good governance. We made governance and government felt and seen by people in barangays that have long been under the influence and terror of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) through our Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) and Support to the Barangay Development Program (SBDP), which jumpstarted the implementation of vital development projects in these barangays.

In the next 12 months, we will put the final nails on the coffin of the CPP-NPA-NDF and its 50 years of existence. We will never squander this golden opportunity in the last 12 months of the administration. Due to the country’s geographical location and what we face today, we will prioritize enhancing LGU capacity on disaster and pandemic preparedness and resiliency to reduce their impact on our lives and economy. Considering we are not yet out of this pandemic, we will ensure alignment of LGU action with that of national directivesto ensure singularity and commonality of efforts and actions to contain and, with hope, put an end to COVID-19. This includes fast tracking the roll-out of the vaccine for every eligible citizen to speed up our return to normalcy.

*****

Sec. Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Adviser

Despite the pandemic, we have strengthened the legal framework for prosecuting acts of terrorism. Through this, the security sector, the anti-terrorism council, and law enforcement agencies now possess the necessary tools for combatting terrorism effectively. Our ongoing security operations have produced dramatic successes against communist terrorist groups. As of 2021, 1,970 communist terrorists have been neutralized. At their peak, their manpower was at 25,000. Presently, they are at 3,706. There is a substantial decline in the number of barangays under their threat and influence, from 8,496 to 678. We will persevere in ensuring the country’s wellbeing, social justice, territorial integrity,, and sovereignty anchored on our core values.

 
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