Panelo: Filipinos ‘in awe’ of Duterte achievements
Majority of Filipinos is in awe of the achievements made by President Rodrigo Duterte in the first half of his six-year term, including crime reduction and the surrender of more than a million drug suspects who are being rehabilitated, according to Malacanang.
Salvador Panelo, presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel, said Duterte has achieved much despite the political noise and attempts to discredit the President that were meant to derail his success.
Panelo said Duterte’s accomplishments included improvements in the country’s peace and order situation and efforts to dismantle the illegal drug trade.
Duterte, Panelo said, was bound to achieve more in the last half of his tenure.
“Much has been done in the past three years,’ Panelo said in a statement.
“The Filipino people can expect the same number of significant achievements, if not more, in the remainder of the President’s term,” he said.
“Even as the majority of Filipinos are in awe of PRRD’s accomplishments, the best is still to come,” Panelo said in a statement, using the initials of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Panelo said among the major achievements of Duterte was to reduce crimes “to an incredibly low figure.” In 2018, the Philippne National Police (PNP) reported a decline of at least 9 percent in the number of all crimes committed in the country.
Another achievement of Duterte, according to Panelo, is “dismantling the illegal drug industry and apparatus with the voluntary surrender of already more than a million drug personalities and rehabilitating the victims thereof.”
Panelo made no mention of the casualty figure in Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs. The PNP had acknowledged at least 7,000 suspects killed in legitimate police operations but human rights groups said the death toll could be as high as 20,000, mostly suspects being arrested or their homes raided without warrants or just killed in gangland-style street executions.
Duterte himself had admitted he could not eradicate the illegal drug trade during his term after initially promising to end it in three to six months.
Yet another achievement by Duterte, according to Panelo, was the pursuit of an independent foreign policy which was made possible by removing subservience to Western powers. Duterte had been called out by his critics for virtually kowtowing to China and refusing to assert Philippine jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.
There was no mention in Panelo’s statement of critics’ view that Duterte’s embrace of China had compromised Philippine territorial integrity.
But Panelo said Duterte’s independent foreign policy had led to better relationships with China, Russia and the Philippines’ neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Panelo added that Dutertenomics had also been proven to be working.
Duterte, according to Panelo, “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.”
But gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the Philippines moved at its slowest at a little over 4 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, although this was largely blamed on a squabble in Congress over pork barrel funds that delayed the passage of the 2019 national budget.
GDP growth was average of 6 percent in 2018.
Panelo credited what he said was a booming Philippine economy to a “Golden Age of Infrastructure” ushered in by Duterte through his more than P3-trillion “Build, Build, Build” program to accelerate construction of new and existing projects.
The Philippines under Duterte also earned its highest credit rating–BBB plus—from Standard and Poor’s, a credit-rating agency recognized as one of the three biggest in the world.
Yet another achievement by Duterte, according to Panelo, was to increase revenue by collecting unpaid fees from some of the biggest businesses in the Philippines—P6 billion from Philippine Airlines and P40 billion from the now shuttered tobacco company Mighty Corp.
The other achievements by Duterte, according to Panelo, were:
- Strategies and measures that prevented the spread of the communist rebellion and crushed attempts by terror groups to establish a base in the Philippines
- Free tuition in state universities and colleges
- Free irrigation to farmers
- Free internet access in public places
- Feeding programs for public school students
- Universal health care
- Free medicines for indigents
- Mandatory health insurance coverage for persons with disabilities
- Subsidies for government hospitals
- Increase of seniors’ SSS pension
- Higher wages for government workers
- 100 percent increase in salaries of uniformed personnel
- End to labor-only contracting that led to thousands of workers becoming regulars
- Work-from-home arrangements
Panelo’s list of achievements by Duterte was long. It included measures that the President signed like laws making cash subsidies for the poor a mandatory government service and the Magna Carta for the poor.
The President, according to Panelo, had also distributed land reform titles to thousands of beneficiaries, pushed for the return of coco levy funds to farmers through a trust fund, protected the environment as shown by his orders to clean up Boracay and Manila Bay and brought home thousands of distressed overseas Filipino workers who were given financial and livelihood aid.
Early in his term, Duterte also put an end to the “tanim bala” scam at airports involving extortion of passengers by planting bullets in their luggage. Duterte also created a task force on media security, imposed a ban on smoking in public places nationwide and stopped the spread of online gambling and froze permits for new casinos.
Still according to Panelo, the President’s commitment against corruption was shown by the removal from office of “even his longtime friends and allies.”
Duterte also banned the use of luxury cars and business class travels by officials and scrapped foreign junkets. Complaints by citizens against shoddy service in government offices were acted upon.
Duterte also showed his disdain for vanity by forbidding the display of his picture in any government office and serving simple food at government occasions.
Panelo added that Duterte had taken care of the military, visiting soldiers in camps and those who died in combat which were displays of Duterte’s “altruism as the nation’s father.”
“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’s statement 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 said. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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