President Duterte’s 6 years: Protecting people’s lives during Marawi war and Covid-19 pandemic

President Duterte's leadership in government efforts to protect people's lives – one from a virus that caused a pandemic, and the other, from a terrorist attack that caused the five-month war in Marawi City – will be among the major highlights of his six-year presidency.

President Duterte's six-year stint in power was no walk in the park as he had to protect Filipinos from a war and a fatal virus that caused a pandemic. (Malacañang photos, Manila Bulletin file photo)

The virus, named Covid-19, has killed 6,294,969 people worldwide, including 60,455 Filipinos, over the past two years.

The war in Marawi City, which started on May 23, 2017, and ended on October 23, 2017, left massive destruction and caused the deaths of 978 militants, including 13 foreigners; 168 government forces; and 87 civilians.

President Duterte was on his first trip to Russia to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin when on May 23, 2017, the war against pro-Islamic State militants in Marawi City broke out. This forced Duterte to declare martial law and cut his trip short.

It took the government five months to declare the war's end after the deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon.

Rebuilding Marawi City

After Marawi City was declared "liberated from terrorist influence," the government immediately worked on rebuilding the war-torn city. About 72 percent of the rehabilitation projects and recovery efforts have been accomplished as of May.

File photo of President Duterte leading the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the military camp at the Old City Hall in Marawi City on January 30, 2018. (Malacañang photo)

Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, who heads the government-led Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), said 56 agencies had finished 164 projects worth P17 billion. Meanwhile, 35 other rehabilitation and recovery projects worth P3.92 billion are ongoing.

Comprehensive peace process

According to Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., a Marawi hero, the Philippines' comprehensive peace process achieved significant gains under Duterte's leadership.

He said the absence of major conflict since the Marawi siege in 2017 has led to increased economic activity and growth across the Bangsamoro region.

File photo of the war-torn city of Marawi on October 2, 2017, days before the government declared its liberation from terrorist forces. (Malacañang photo)

"The gains in peace have facilitated private sector confidence as evidenced by the increase in investment generation, and socioeconomic improvement as seen in the decrease in poverty incidence which is at its lowest in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao)," he pointed out.

Galvez said the BARMM's economy expanded by 7.5 percent in 2021 and recorded the second-fastest growth among all the regions in the country. The region's economy also contributed 0.1 percent to the country's economic growth in 2021, he said.

Participatory governance

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said these milestones were achieved through the people's active involvement in the government's delivery of public service. He said the government reinforced the "participatory governance" to end insurgency and communism, which have struck misinformation, fear, and terror in the country in the past five decades.

Año said the government gathered all local community sectors, listened to their needs, concerns, and aspirations, and "provided them the response they wanted from our government, the right funding and projects for their needs."

"Our support to the Barangay Development Program is a living testament that we genuinely listen to our people's needs and aspirations in life and actually care for them," he said.

"Our efforts were felt and lauded by the people, and we are even recognized globally as we made it to the top 50 countries in Galoops feeling safe survey," he added.

Covid-19 pandemic

However, most of the Duterte administration's programs took the backseat when a virus entered the country. The Philippines recorded its first Covid-19 death, a Chinese tourist, in January 2020, a month after the virus was first traced in Wuhan, China.

File photo of President Duterte meeting key members of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. (Malacañang Photo)

On March 13, 2020, President Duterte declared that Metro Manila would be placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting March 15 but quickly expanded it to the entire Luzon the following day. ECQ enforced the strictest restrictions on movement in the affected areas.

Social protection programs

To address the Covid-19 pandemic, President Duterte passed the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act and Bayanihan To Recover As One Act. These are the most extensive social protection programs in the country's history.

The government has constructed around 9,000 temporary treatment and monitoring facilities and at least 813 Covid-19 facilities as of December 6, 2021.

In assisting workers affected by the pandemic, some 7.588 million displaced workers were assisted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). A total of 911,867 pandemic-affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were repatriated as of February 1, 2022. Some 6.833 million OFWs were also assisted through the one-stop service center for OFWs as of November 2021.

Economic recovery from Covid

In March this year, Malacañang issued an executive order on the Ten-Point Agenda on Economic Recovery from Covid-19, which aims to keep the country more resilient under the new normal. The Ten-Point Agenda keeps the existing Alert Levels System while easing domestic and international travel restrictions, public transport capacity, and allowing face-to-face classes, among others.


According to National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said the government contained and mitigated the spread of the virus through the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19 and the Prevent, Detect, Isolation, Treat, Reintegrate and Vaccinate (PDITRV) Strategy.

The NAP has had four phases: the first focused on containing the virus, the second sought to balance health and the economy, the third implemented the vaccination campaign, and the fourth phase concentrated on revitalizing the nation's economy while effectively managing the crisis.

Vaccination program

President Duterte had repeatedly stressed that vaccination was the key to overcoming the pandemic, but the Philippines only got its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac on February 28, 2021. The vaccination program was immediately implemented, starting with the frontliners.

President Duterte receives his first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. (Malacañang photo)

According to Galvez, the Philippines has received 245.23 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from eight vaccine manufacturers. As of May 26, 2022, about 69.2 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including 12 million minors.

Following vaccination, the Philippines began easing restrictions, including allowing the entry of foreign tourists, in March this year.

Alert Level 1

In the first half of June 2022, 66 percent of the country's provinces, highly urbanized cities (HUCs), and independent component cities (ICCs) are under Alert Level 1, the least strict of all four risk level classifications.