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Duterte admin’s Sona promises for 2016, 2017: A review

/ 06:04 PM July 22, 2018

By tradition, the State of the Nation Address (Sona) by the President offers a view of the government’s priorities, the assessment of the state of the nation that drives the agenda and the needed legislative action. It invariably includes a number of promises.

In his last two Sonas, President Rodrigo Duterte made more than 75 promises ranging from the very specific and short-term to the more encompassing and long-term.

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In this compilation of updates of some the President’s promises, a scoring is attempted: A thumbs up for promise kept; A thumbs down for a promise not kept; and a thumbs up/thumbs down for a promise that has mixed results of good and bad or ongoing and still being done.

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Updates on President Duterte’s 2016 Sona promises

Promise: Relax constitutional restrictions on economy, institute mandatory reforms to promote ease in doing business

Update: The proposed 11th foreign investment negative list (FINL) would reduce to $200,000 the minimum paid-up capital needed by foreigners to participate in domestic retail trade.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the latest FINL would also allow the entry of international construction companies. He also endorsed a draft executive order raising the share of foreign contractors in local projects to “over 40 percent.”

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he was amenable to lifting foreign investment restrictions in the Constitution, except for land ownership.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Review mining and logging permits and intensify illegal logging and illegal mining campaign with the help of the military

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Update: In her 11-month tenure as Environment Secretary, Regina Paz Lopez ordered the closure of 28 operating mines and the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA)—a quarter of the industry’s contracts—claiming these illegally encroached on watersheds, leaked waste into rivers and destroyed trees.

She also directed a ban on open-pit mining, which led to the closure of more than half of the country’s operating mines that used this method.

In October 2017, new Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, under the guidance of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council that he co-chairs with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, decided to reverse the ban on open-pit mining.

Cimatu also crafted a five-point document called the “Baguio Declaration,” which promotes sustainable and responsible mining. Included in it were the protection and enhancement of the environment, protection of the indigenous communities, fair contribution to the economy, and compliance with highest international standards.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, the country’s largest mining organization. subscribed to the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) initiative called “Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM)” program, known as a globally recognized set of standards that would serve as the industry’s latest benchmark in measuring its performance.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Full implementation of Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law

Update: In January 2017, President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 12, which ordered the budget department to “realign and augment appropriations” to support the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law in 2017, with the funding requirements in subsequent years to be included in the annual budget law.

Under EO 12, the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population and the Department of the Interior and Local Government will work with local governments for the provision of contraceptives and family planning services.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Develop a national broadband plan, provide free Wi-Fi in public areas

Update: In its 2017 audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the lack of project planning and coordination resulted in the delayed and failed implementation of Project Pipol Konek, the four-year, P6.5-billion project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

With an initial fund layout of P4.8 billion, Pipol Konek was started in January 2015. The COA findings, however, revealed that as of December 2017, the project achieved a “very low-performance rate.”

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Maintain and improve macroeconomic policies/ have prudent fiscal and monetary policies. Achieve solid growth, low and stable inflation, dollar reserves and robust fiscal position by the end f term

Update: The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.7 percent for the full year of 2017, making the Philippines among the fastest growing economies in Asia, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA’s in its report last April. But inflation picked up faster than expected to 5.2 percent year-on-year in June, the highest in more than five years, due to costlier food and “sin” products.

Rising inflation, blamed on the enforcement of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act starting January, a weak peso and firmer global oil prices, has prompted the central bank to raise interest rates in May and June.

The TRAIN law raised the ceiling on tax-exempt income, but imposed excise on oil products despite the value-added tax on fuel and slapped higher taxes on tobacco, alcohol and other so-called sin products.

Score: Thumbs Up/Thumbs down

Promise: Relax bank secrecy law

Update: By April next year, the government would implement tax amnesty, which forms part of tax reform package “1B,” an offshoot of the TRAIN law. The tax package also includes an estate tax amnesty, higher motor vehicle user’s charge, bank secrecy relaxation and automatic exchange of information.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Provide modern agriculture infrastructure and establish modern harvest and post-harvest facilities

Update: The government plans to issue bonds to raise funds for the completion of the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s farm-to-market roads (FMRs) and its farm and fisheries mechanization program.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the agency would need P140 billion to finish some 13,000 kilometers of FMRs all over the country, while another P60 billion would be required to finance the mechanization of farms and fishing communities nationwide.

The agency is also pushing for a P900-million loan with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) for a program to fully mechanize select clusters of farms starting with 10 pilot areas of 1,000-hectares each.

Under the proposed Philippine Agricultural Modernization Program, the DA intended to provide farmers in 10 model sites nationwide with farm equipment, post-harvest facilities, technical support and institutional development.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Address perennial flooding in Metro Manila and neighboring areas/put up new pumping stations in strategic places

Update: In its 2017 audit report, the Commission on Audit found 47 out of 68 projects of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) that were programmed for the year were not completed on schedule, due to frequent changes in the MMDA’s organization.

Based on audit findings, the MMDA allotted a total of P459 million for 68 flood-control projects, the bulk of which were the 35 drainage improvement projects, worth P207.1 million.

But at the end of 2017, the COA found only 21 flood-control projects completed, while 11 were still ongoing and 36 were not yet started. Of the 21 projects completed, 20 did not meet target completion timetable.

In January, the Department of Finance said the government would begin work on the $500-million Metro Manila Flood Control Management Project to be jointly implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways and MMDA.

Partly financed by China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it was aimed for completion in 2024.

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Implement Freedom of Information

Update: According to online FOI portal (https://www.foi.gov.ph), there had been 5269 requests broken down into 1,817 successful requests, 1,376 pending/processing and at least 1,385 denied. A number of pending requests are more than 15- working- days old (the mandated standard processing time). There are 283 participating agencies but as of July 15, only 32 have FOI Manuals. There were also complaints of redacted SALNs.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Increase number of Metro Rail Transit-3 running trains from 16 to 20 and increase train speed from 40 kph to 60 kph

Update: There are only 12 running MRT trains as of July 15.

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Provide financial education to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to encourage entrepreneurship

Update: In October 2017, financial assistance for Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) in the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program was increased P10,000 to P20,000 to ensure sufficient start-up capital for livelihood projects.

Last June, the President led the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB), rebranded Philippine Postal Savings Bank, which was acquired by the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines for conversion into a financial institution catering mainly to overseas Filipino workers by providing them with low-cost financing or loans.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Protect human rights and ensure the rule of law shall at all times prevail

Update: The Duterte administration enjoys majority approval rating (71 percent) on “Enforcing the law on all, whether influential or ordinary people,” according to a Pulse Asia Research, Inc. survey done in March. A Pulse Asia survey in September says that 73 percent believed that EJKs exist in the government’s anti drug campaign.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Amend laws on human terrorism, terrorism financing and cybercrime

Update: Bills to amend the laws are pending in the House and Senate.

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Coordinate with Indonesia and Malaysia to suppress kidnappings in the waters of these countries

Update: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines launched Trilateral Maritime Patrol Arrangement for joint naval patrol in June last year. In October they launched joined trilateral air patrol.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Improve household income

Update: TRAIN law provides tax relief to over six million tax-exempt wage or salary earners (those with taxable income of P685 per day or P20,833 per month and below) and additional take-home pay for the 13-month pay and other bonuses not exceeding P90,000 exempted from personal tax.. The restructured personal tax-exempt brackets will also benefit those with yearly taxable income of up to P2 million.

But concerns have been raised for those in the informal sector and for everyone because of the impact of TRAIN in inflation as it raises tax on petroleum products, among others. The highest inflation in years erodes everyone’s purchasing power.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Attract investments and generate jobs for the poor and less skilled and attract investments for labor-intensive industries

Update: Foreign direct investment (FDI) net inflows reached a record high of US$10 billion in 2017, up by 21.4 percent from the year-ago level. Filipino-led investments hit P805.7 billion last year, also up 72.5 percent from P466.9 billion in 2016. But 10.9 adult Filipinos million were jobless, according to a survey done by SWS last March, up from 7.2 million in December. The jobless include about 3.5 million who

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Invest in human capital. Increase spending on basic education and expand alternative learning system programs.

Update: Budget for pre-primary and primary education went up from Php 170.3 billion in 2016 to Php 201.9 B in 2017. The ALS program has Php P533 million budget for 2018. In place is a 3-year program to enhance ALS curriculum. An initiative called ALS-Education and Skills Training or ALS-EST was implemented on pilot bases for 2017 to 2018. The aim is to have ALS graduates who are ready for immediate employment.

Last June, the MOA between the Commission on Higher Education (CHED),112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and 78-CHED Registered Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) was signed to implement Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. With this law, 1.3 million students enrolled in SUCs and LUCs are to enjoy free tuition and miscellaneous fees beginning academic year 2018-19.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Optimize agricultural production

Update: Signed into law in February, Republic Act No. 10969 or the Free Irrigation Service Act ensures free irrigation services are made available to poor farmers through the continued construction, repair, and maintenance of necessary irrigation facilities.

Palay production went up from 17.63 million metric tons in 2016 to 19.28 million metric tons in 2017. But prices of rice continued to increase for at least 24 weeks from. As of the third week of June, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the average retail price of regular-milled and well-milled rice reached P40.57 and P44.21 a kilogram, respectively. Compared to year ago levels, prices have gone up by 7.67 percent and 5.77 percent, respectively. The NFA had to distribute imported rice from Thailand and Vietnam to help bring down the prices.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Revive the operation of the Pasig River Ferry Service System

Update: In April 2014, the Pasig River ferry system was reopened as an alternative mode of transportation in congested Metro Manila.

At present, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority runs the ferry system which has few operating ferries without air-conditioning while the stations are in dilapidated condition.

In April this year, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that the government would bid out the contract to operate the Pasig River ferry system to a private firm by midyear. The government also plans to build an additional 17 stations on top of the existing 12 stations in the next four years to serve up to 76,800 passengers a day.

By 2022, the government wants at least 24 air-conditioned ferries, each with a capacity of 50 seats, serving the Pasig River route.

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: Immediately intensify anti-colorum and out-of-apprehension campaign

Update: In March 2018, the transportation department formed the “Task Force Kamao” to intensify its crackdown on colorum (operating without a valid franchise) vehicles based on the President’s directive.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Extend effectiveness of drivers’ licenses to five years

Update: On Aug. 2, 2017, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10930, which extends the validity of drivers’ licenses from three years to five years.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Lengthen the validity of passports from five years to 10 years and open additional consular offices to avoid queues in passport application

Update: Republic Act No. 10928, signed by President Duterte on Aug. 2, extended the validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years. The DFA issued Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the act on Oct. 25, 2017. It took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Extend LRT operating hours to 10:30 p.m.

Update: LRT 2 has extended operating hours to 10:30 p.m.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Decongest NAIA and shift some domestic and international airlines to the Clark Airport

Update: In September 2017 the Department of Transportation (DOTr), in partnership with the Genesis Transport Service Inc. (GTSI), launched a bus service program that can ferry passengers from the Clark International Airport in Pampanga to NAIA 3.According to an official statement, this move was meant to provide “convenient transportation from the Clark International Airport to NAIA as the government plans to transfer flights between the two airports, while helping decongest traffic in Metro Manila.”

Score: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Promise: Transform Laguna Lake into a vibrant economic zone and prioritize the entitlement of the small fisherman

Update: In December 2017, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) closed down an open dump in Taguig City that had been operating for years on illegally reclaimed land facing Laguna de Bay. The agency also filed charges against the operators of the dump located along C6 Road in Barangay Hagonoy.

Score: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Promise: Provide rice subsidies to the poorest families

Update: The DSWD started the release in March 2017 of rice subsidies to an estimated four (4) million Pantawid Pamilya households. Each active and compliant household is entitled to receive a PhP600.00 monthly rice subsidy, equivalent to around 18 kilos of rice.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Provide universal health insurance and strengthen capabilities of government hospitals

Update: For the health advancement efforts of the government, Sec. Orogo shared that 93 percent of Filipinos are already covered by PhilHealth. These include the 32.7 million indigents listed on the DSWD’s Listahanan of poor households and 8.6 million senior citizens. Meanwhile, the Medical Assistance for the Indigents Patients (MAIP) has served a total of 751,007 clients, while the DSWD’s Lingap sa Masa has benefited a total of 63,178 clients.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Fully implement the Magna Carta of Women down to the barangays

Update: The DSWD held caravans to raise awareness on the various forms of harassment and where to report cases of the same. The theme for National Women’s Month celebration (NWMC) for 2017-2022, “We Make Change Work for Women” refers to efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Magna Carta for Women (MCW) at all levels; and ensure compassionate and harmonized actions and networks for gender equality. A total of 381, 908 women availed of community-based and center-based programs and services from January to December 2017.

Score: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Promise: Streamline case investigation processes to address backlogs in courts

Update: According to the its annual report for year 2006-2017, the PNP continues to advance its Information Technology (IT)Solutions to emphasize the significance of investigation incrime prevention and solution. The core components of the IT Solutions are the enhanced e-Blotter or Crime Information Reporting and Analysis System (CIRAS); Case Information Database Management System (CIDMS); Case Management and Analysis System (CMAS); e-Subpoena System; e-Rogues Gallery and, e-Warrant System.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Enact the whistleblower protection law and strengthen the witness protection program

Update: Whistleblower Protection Act filed by Richard Gordon is pending at the Senate as of May 2017

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Hire more lawyers and staff in the Public Attorney’s Office

Update: PAO had a manpower of 2,989 employees in 2017, up from 2,712 in 2016

Score: Thumbs Up

Updates on President Duterte’s 2017 Sona promises

Promise: Unremitting and unrelenting fight against drugs. In 2016 Sona: No let up in campaign against drugs. Rehabilitate drug users/Increase rehab facilities

Update: From Philippine National Police (PNP): a total of 91,704 anti-drug operations (from July 2016 to March 20, 2018) where 123,648 drug suspects were arrested; and 189 drug dens and clandestine laboratories dismantled; P19.67 billion-worth of drugs, and laboratory equipment were seized by government forces.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that, as of April 2018, 6,462 barangays in the country have already been declared drug-free.

Amidst the public outcry over the killing of three young Filipinos – Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17 years old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19 and Reynaldo De Guzman, 14, Mr. Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be the lead agency in the government’s drug war in October last year. The Philippine National Police (PNP) then suspended its Oplan Double Barrel and Tokhang, the controversial campaign against illegal drugs, which led to thousands of deaths of suspected drug users and peddlers. After being suspended twice, Oplan Tokhang was relaunched in March as a “bloodless” campaign.

How many have died from the government’s brutal war on drugs has been subject to different estimates. In #RealNumbers in the Fighting Illegal Drugs found in report by Presidential Communications Operations Office, “The Duterte Administration Year-End Report,” it is stated that, there were “3,967 drug personalities who died in ant-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to November 27, 2017” and “16,355 homicide cases under investigation from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017,” — a total of over 20,000 killed by police officers and unknown assailants.

As of 2017, there are 48 accredited rehabilitation centers in the country, more than half of which are operated by private groups. But the government continues to construct rehab facilities in the provinces.

Rehab centers funded by the Chinese government built/being built: Mega drug rehab in Sarangani and in Agusan del Sur (150 beds each) and through donation of Chinese real estate tycoon, Huang Rulan: 10,000-bed capacity Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Facility (MDATRF).

But critics have said that smaller, community-based rehab centers are more effective in reducing drug demand. As of June 2017, the MDATRF only has 315 male patients.

But according to the Department of Health figures as of September 2017, 16,103 drug dependents underwent rehab, while 2,236 drug users completed the government’s rehab program. Some 14,046 drug surrenderers got livelihood and skills training.

Score: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Promise: Continue pursuit of peace, but no talks with communist rebels. In 2016 Sona, 1) Unilateral ceasefire with CPP/NDFP/NPA and resume peace talks/end mistrust and warfare with Muslim and Communist rebels 2) Crush the Abu Sayyaf by application of full force of AFP

Update: By end of 2017, the President had issued proclamations declaring to end peace talks and to declare the CPP/NDF/NPA as terrorist organizations. Jose Maria Sison, the CCP’s founding chair, then said that there was no need to talk peace due to the Duterte’s administration “obsession with martial law and mass murder.”

Weeks before this year’s Sona, Sison further said only a miracle could save the peace negotiations as the insurgents would consider returning to the table only if the President would revoke the proclamations that terminated peace negotiations and declared the CPP and NPA as terrorist organization. There is only a Chinaman’s chance, considering the President’s hardened stance as he voiced preference for the holding of localized peace talks.

Though the largest faction of the Abu Sayyaf led by Isnilon Hapilon was wiped out in Marawi, there have been sporadic clashes with the army and kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf this year.

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Strengthen the AFP

Update: President Duterte has approved the P300-billion budget for the second phase of the modernization program of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in June.

In the shopping list of the government include multi-role fighters, radar systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters (attack and combat utility) for the Philippine Air Force; corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters for the Philippine Navy; howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems and night-fighting equipment for the Philippine Army.

The modernization program is divided into three “horizons”: from 2013 to 2017, from 2018 to 2022 and the last from 2023 to 2028.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Establish a Bangsamoro government that reflects Muslim aspirations. In 2016 Sona: Address concerns of the Bangsamoro and work for peace. Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Update: After grappling with contentious issues and several debacle, the congressional Bicameral Conference Committee approved on July 18, the reconciled version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was renamed the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) or the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
According to a Malacanang news release on July 11, it is expected to be signed into law before the Sona.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Urge agencies to act on climate change. In 2016 Sona: Consider both global warming and industrialization concerns

Update: The last notable action of the President on climate change was his signing of the Paris Agreement on Feb. 28 last year. The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: Mining firms of being taxed to death unless they compensate public for damages to the environment

Update: The review of the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) of the first batch of mining sites ordered shut down or suspended by former Gina Lopez was delayed several times. The mine sites were ordered closed in February 2017 for allegedly damaging watersheds and for siltation of coastal waters and farmlands.

The MICC review was supposed to start by June 2017, but it pushed through just this year. The decision on the cases is expected this month.

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: Pursue relations with other countries based on sovereign equality, mutual respect and non-interference

Update: Thumbs up for maintaining strong presence in the Asean and Apec and alliance with Japan. But the President’s independent foreign policy has been viewed as anti-American, proRussian and proChinese with friendship with China as a key pillar. A critic said that when a country cannot assert issues concerning national interest (like in West Philippine Sea), it does not have an independent foreign policy.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Cultivate warmer relations with China through bilateral dialogues and other mechanisms, leading to easing of tensions between the two countries and improved negotiating environment on the West Philippine Sea. In 2016 Sona promise: Respect for Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling

Update: Arbitration ruling not implemented in favor of more trade, investments and aid from China and because of the President’s position of “I won’t go to war I can’t win.” This has made the Philippines become a ‘willing victim’ of China in the sea dispute according to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Press the United States to return Balangiga bells

Update: Two months after President Duterte raised during his second State of the Nation Address the issue on the Balangiga bells, he said that the effort to return the bells could outlive his term. The President said that the return of the bells to the Philippines would be difficult because American war veterans were opposed to the idea.

But according to US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in September 2017, there have been discussions between the two governments “to try to facilitate the return of the bells as quickly as possible.”

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: No excessive salaries, allowances, and bonuses across all GOCCs

Update: In July 2017, President Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 36 that suspended the Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) and the Index of Occupational Services (IOS) under EO No. 203, which set the framework of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) employees’ compensation and the computation of their bonuses and incentives.

Duterte said that there was a “need to further study and review the compensation of GOCCs and eliminate excessive, unauthorized, illegal, and/or unconscionable allowances, incentives, and benefits.”

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Tackle federalism. In 2016 Sona: Nationwide information campaign on Federalism by the DILG

Update: The Consultative Committee for the Review the 1987 Constituted submitted to the President its proposed federal constitution on July 9. A small majority of Filipinos (55 percent) report awareness of proposals to change the country’s charter according to a survey last June by June Pulse Asia, Inc.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Direct MMDA, lgus of Manila and Cebu to clear road obstructions/ Clear the roads of Manila from traffic and obstructions. Related 2016 promise: Emergency powers to address traffic problems and map secondary roads with local government units

Update: According to the 2017 annual report of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the top three common traffic violations committed last year were disregarding a traffic sign, obstruction and violating the number coding scheme.

Data from the MMDA’s Traffic Discipline Office (TDO) Ticket Management Division showed that there were 91,843 traffic-sign violations, 73,082 obstruction violations and 30,474 number-coding violations. The same report showed that a total of 11,888 tickets were issued to violators who were apprehended for loading and unloading in prohibited zones along Edsa, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Metro Manila, in 2017.

Starting Aug. 1, MMDA will implement partial, temporary ban on buses plying Edsa. The agency hopes to reduce the number of buses on the busy thoroughfare by 2,000 units.

Score: Thumbs down

Promise: Direct DOF and BIR to accept Mighty Corp’s tax settlement

Update: In March 2017, Mighty cigarettes had been found bearing fake tax stamps to evade excise tax payments, such that the government slapped the homegrown manufacturer three tax evasion cases worth nearly P38 billion.

The government eventually decided to settle with Mighty. Under the deal, the Bulacan-based company had to sell P46.8 billion in assets to tobacco giant Japan Tobacco International. The government will also receive P30 billion to cover the tax deficiencies.

As part of the tax settlement, the Department of Justice in October 2017 dismissed the tax evasion cases against Mighty owner Alexander Wongchuking, president Edilberto Adan, executive vice president Oscar Barrientos and treasurer Ernesto Victa.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Submit to Congress an activist budget of Php3.767 trillion for 2018

Update: From January to June, P3.413 trillion or 90.6 percent of this year’s budget was already released, including continuing appropriations under the 2017 national budget as well as other automatic appropriations, the latest Department of Budget and Management data showed.

Last December, President Duterte signed the P3.767-trillion national budget into law, saying it forms part of the first step toward transforming the Philippines into an “upper middle class” country before the end of his term.

It will fund the administration’s ambitious infrastructure program, free college education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), universal healthcare, free irrigation, maintenance of peace and order in the country, and doubling of salaries of police and military personnel, Duterte said.

Score: Thumbs up

Promise: Appeal to pass National Land Use Act

Update: On July 4, 2017, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5240 or the proposed “National Land Use and Management Act of the Philippines,” which seeks to institutionalize a National Land Use Policy that will govern the country’s land use and management. On July 26, 2017, Sen. Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill No. 1522 or the National Land Use Act of 2017. The bill has been pending in the Environmental and Natural Resources committee chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar since July 31, 2017.

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: Ask Congress to act on all pending legislations to reimpose the death penalty on heinous crimes

Update: In his State of the Nation Address in July 2017, President Duterte called on both houses of Congress to pass the bill on capital punishment. Voting 216 to 54 with one abstention, the House passed the bill bringing back death penalty, but in a watered-down draft that excludes crimes like rape, kidnap-for-ransom and plunder. .The Senate has not passed a counterpart bill.

Score: Thumbs Down

Promise: Increase of assistance to the OFW from 400 million pesos to more than 1 billion

Update: In August 2017, President Duterte approved DFA’s request for a P1 billion budget to assist distressed Filipinos abroad in 2018. The Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Fund increased from P400 million to P1 billion and the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) from P100 million to P200 million for 2018. In December, the DFA released guidelines on the use of the more than P1-billion in funds to assist Filipinos who encounter emergencies and other problems abroad.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Act on complaints received through hotlines 911 and 8888. In 2016 Sona: Set up an 8888 hotline for complaints

Update: According to the 2017 year end report of Hotline 8888, of the 213,142 calls handled in their 15-month operation, 158,654 tickets have been issued. Tickets are divided between simple and complex concerns elevated to government agencies for resolutions. A total of 47,889 tickets were complaints while 24,508 tickets were requests for assistance. Local government units had the highest number of complaints for graft and corrupt practices.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Expedite passage of “The Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Delivery and for other Purposes.”

Update: On March 15, 2017, Senate Bill No. 1395 or Rightsizing the National Government Act was filed in the Senate. It’s status has been on pending second reading since then. On July 26, 2017, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5707, a bill rightsizing the government to improve the delivery of public services with 230 affirmative votes, six negative and zero abstentions.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Promise: Urge Congress to thoroughly review the existing procurement laws, and come up with legislation that will ensure prompt delivery of goods and services to the people

Update: In November 2017, President Duterte said he wanted to eliminate the bidding process for public work projects. In January 2018, he reiterated this and said the country should just adapt the Swiss challenge system where a government agency that receives an unsolicited proposal for a project from a private group invites third parties to match or offer a better proposal. The original project proponent would be allowed to match that counterbid or improve on it. The current procurement law directs the government to bid out its public works or services projects and the lowest bidder normally is awarded the contract. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III has filed to bills in February and March seeking to amend the current Government Procurement Reform Act but both are still pending in committee levels.

Score: Thumbs Up/Down

Promise: Give equitable access to quality and affordable health services and expand health insurance coverage and benefits. The destitute and the indigents, or those who just could not afford hospitalization, can be provided with free services of government-operated and public hospitals as well. Strengthen the implementation of the No Balance Billing Policy.

Update: The health sector got one of the top 10 high allocation in the 2018 budget at Ph170 billion. The DOH budget was increased was to provide more funds to its medical assistance program for indigent patients and additional medicine for cancer patients.

In relation to the Dengvaxia scare, a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Health (DOH) and public and private hospitals to also ensure the implementation of a “no-balance billing” policy, ensuring that Dengvaxia recipients would not shoulder any hospitalization charge should they be admitted for dengue. Under the policy, the DOH medical assistance program would pay for the remaining balance in excess of that covered by PhilHealth.

A bill that will provide for Filipino’s access to comprehensive set of health services at an affordable rate is already in the pipeline, according to Health Secretary Duque.

Score: Thumbs Up

Promise: Build, build, build — make the next few years the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” in the Philippines to enhance our mobility and connectivity. Related 2016 Sona promise: Accelerate infrastructure spending to implement Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network and other road network master plans. Modernize the Ports of Iloilo, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. Related 2016 Sona promises: Construct more access roads and tourism gateways. Pursue inter-island linkage projects. Pursue and complete rail projects in Metro Manila and the Mindanao Railway Project, Davao Transit System, the Cebu Transit System, the North and South Luzon Railways, and the Panay Railways project by end of term;

Update: The government allocated P8.4-trillion on public infrastructure from 2017 to 2022 under the “Build, Build, Build” program. According to NEDA Director General Pernia, the government’s massive infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build” should contribute to growth in the following quarters and years. Neda expects to spend as much as 7.3 percent of GDP on public infrastructure and envision the completion of 32 of 75 flagship projects by end-2022, while making sure that the 4,909 other projects across the country will have broken ground by then.

The Duterte administration’s infrastructure push continues to be hampered by bureaucratic bottlenecks, as shown by the Department of Public Works and Highways’ use of only a third of its P662.69-billion funding in 2017.

In its 2017 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit said only P222.66 billion, or 33.6 percent, of the DPWH’s allotment was disbursed “due to the delayed/non-implementation of infrastructure projects.”

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs Down

Promise: Pass Tax Reform Law. Related 2016 Sona promise: Lowering of personal and corporate income tax rates and pursue an efficient tax system

Update: The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) was signed into law last December. Some senators have called for its suspension and the need to amend it.

Score: Thumbs up/Thumbs down

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TAGS: 2016, 2017, duterte, Review, Sona, sona2018
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