The Asian Voice

Ten goodbyes to President Duterte: Inquirer columnist

The writer says that to many citizens, President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has rememberable achievements, good and bad, and the next President should strive to be better.

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on July 26, 2021.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on July 26, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - After delivering his almost 3-hour valedictory State of the Nation Address, President Duterte wanted to explain all his major accomplishments.

He didn't say goodbye yet, because technically, he has 341 days or about 48 weeks in power and many things can still happen.

But to many citizens, this administration has rememberable achievements, good or bad, from both sides of the fence. And some compare the President to his probable successors next year.

My friends tell me that Mr Duterte's biggest achievement is still our safer communities and streets, after "hoodlums", "drug addicts" and pushers were removed in our barangays.

Also ousted and neutralised were "abusive cops" who coddled "siga-sigas" and istambays who front for their mulcting, extortion, drug trafficking and illicit activities. As a result, nationwide crime volume went down by an unprecedented 64 per cent.

Second, this administration gave free Covid-19 vaccines to all citizens. As of today, almost 31 million doses were collected (15.3 million from government, 10.2 million thru Covax facility, and 2.1 million doses through bilateral donations).

By December, expect 170 million doses with inoculation rate of five million doses per month.

Third, 18 million households, or 90 million people, all over the country received almost P12,000 (S$323) each as SAP "ayuda" (help) during lockdowns last year. This is separate from relief goods from DSWD and LGUs. To many, this doleout is a great humanitarian gesture.

Fourth, at least two million poor people availed of or got 'free hospitalisation" in government hospitals thru the Universal Health Care, the Malasakit Center, and the DOH no-balance billing policy.

This includes poor patients with Covid-19 and I have some relatives and friends who were hospitalised for free and recovered. My driver was operated on for stomach problems and did not pay a single centavo on his more than P100,000 bill in Quirino Labor Hospital.

Fifth, Mr Duterte's very important achievement is the unprecedented "free repatriation" of almost 700,000 overseas Filipino workers from the Middle East and elsewhere.

They were sent home with "free airfare", "free accommodation" with P30,000 financial assistance each. The billion peso funds of OWWA were maximized to help our distressed kababayans. This is a direct reversal of the "miser policies" of the Estrada-Arroyo-Aquino administrations.

Sixth, 1.8 million college students are no longer paying tuition and miscellaneous fees in 112 State Universities and Colleges and state-run Technical-Vocational Institutions all over the country. This is great relief for all parents with their sinking household budgets and a blessing in disguise for hardworking and talented students.

Seventh, the TRAIN law, approved in December 2017, exempted from tax those with annual salaries of P250,000 or P22,000 a month. An immediate saving of roughly P75,000 a year for every worker. And those earning above P250,000 also saved money with lowered tax rates from a high 30 per cent to low 15 per cent.

Corporate income taxes for small and medium scale businessmen are now only 20 percent from a high of 32 percent giving them flexibility for more benefits to workers or for expanded operations.

Eighth, the President ordered big businesses to rightfully pay their taxes. Powerful tobacco conglomerate Mighty Corporation paid P50-billion tax settlement.

Tycoon Lucio Tan's Philippine Airlines paid its P6-billion debt for navigational charges at the airport. Maynilad and Manila Water both waived their P7.4 billion and P3.6 billion claims against government after their contracts were reviewed.

Ninth, he pushed for real AFP and PNP modernisation. Not only did he double the salaries of cops and soldiers, we now continue to attain the "minimum credible defense" standard to protect our territories.

We have formidable air and sea assets, including a squadron of missile-capable fighter jets, naval ships and maybe a submarine in the next few years.

And lastly, the very important Build-Build-Build policy invested in a lot of new roads, bridges, superhighways, railways, airports and sea ports in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. A legacy to the next generation.

These are just ten top-of-mind farewell accomplishments by this sitting President. The next one, whoever he or she is, should strive to be much, much better.

  • The writer is columnist with the paper. The Philippine Daily Inquirer is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.