More achievements seen as Duterte marks 3rd year in office

(Photo credit: Philippine News Agency)

Much has been done under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Filipino people can expect more, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Saturday as the chief executive marks his third year in the office on June 30.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“Even as the majority of the Filipinos are in awe of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s accomplishments, the best is still to come,” he added.

Panelo said the chief executive’s record as the Philippine president speaks for itself.

Halfway through his term, Panelo said Duterte has attained “countless and incomparable feats” in reducing the crime rate, dismantling the illegal drug industry and apparatus with the voluntary surrender of already more than a million drug personalities and rehabilitating the victims.

Among others, the administration had also crushed attempts of terrorism and initiated measures to thwart the local communist rebellion from spreading, he added.

Several measures signed

“While the President has given priority to the improvement of peace and order in the country, he laid the foundation that will propel the nation to progress and reach new heights,” Panelo said.

“With an unprecedented political will, genuine empathy as well as the relentless resolve to uplift the general welfare of the people, he signed long-pending bills into laws, (and) issued executive measures,” he said.

These said measures include the 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, universal health care program, 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.

During his three years into office, Duterte had also signed into laws and proposed measures aimed at reducing poverty, which include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and the Magna Carta of the Poor.

The President also 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,” Panelo said.

President Duterte also 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,” the official noted.

“Under his leadership, the Philippines earned the highest credit rating in our economic history with a BBB+ upgrade from global debt watcher Standard and Poor’s,” he added.

The President has similarly intensified revenue collections of the government to “new record-highs”, Panelo said.

For the past years, the Philippine government pursued the collection of around PHP6 billion from Philippine Airlines for overdue navigational fees and the landmark settlement by the government of about PHP40 billion with Mighty Corporation for the latter’s failure to pay excise taxes.

Independent foreign policy pursued

As Head of State, Panelo highlighted the independent foreign policy pursued by the Duterte administration.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, as Head of State, has pursued an independent foreign policy by means of removing our country’s subservience to the West,” he pointed out.

“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 added.

In securing the welfare of Filipinos abroad, Panelo cited the repatriation of 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.

Last year, a total of 101,918 Filipinos abroad received assistance through the augmented Assistance to Nationals Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and at least 14,542 through the Legal Assistance Fund.

Developing Mindanao, cutting corruption

During this time, Duterte has 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,” said Panelo.

Duterte has also fired military and high officials in the government for corruption or incompetence, even including his longtime friends and allies.

“The Palace has 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 by prohibiting the use of luxury cars and air travels in business class, and scrapping junket foreign travels of government officials, among others,” Panelo said.

“He has 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,” he added.

The President has eliminated the “tanim bala” scam in the airports after 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, froze the proliferation of online gambling and ordered a halt to the construction of new casinos.

The President has also promoted and protected the country’s environment, including the closure of the cesspool that was Boracay for its rehabilitation, the cleanup of Manila Bay, and the prohibition on open-pit mining, Panelo said.

Among others, Duterte demonstrated “altruism as the nation’s father” by visiting Filipino troops regularly to boost their morale, 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.

“The President has done all these, and these are just some examples, in his three years of national service, while giving his critics and detractors the free space to air their grievances,” Panelo said.

“Despite the political noise and virulent black propaganda against him and his family, initiated by his political enemies, he has not filed a single case against them,” he noted. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora, Philippine News Agency)