Duterte: One year of bold initiatives, shock and awe

/ 12:25 AM June 25, 2017

Editor’s Note: Starting June 25, the Inquirer will run on its print, online, and social media platforms a series of stories, reports and commentaries on the socioeconomic impact – positive and negative – that President Duterte has made in his first year in office. The articles will focus on how the former Davao City mayor has coped with the challenges of the presidency in five major areas that Filipinos consider most important in their lives: peace and order, traffic, economy, governance and foreign policy. This evaluation of the administration’s achievements and shortcomings will take into account what Mr. Duterte had promised to do during last year’s presidential campaign, his June 30 inaugural speech and his July 25 State of the Nation Address.

President Rodrigo Duterte is sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines and promises a relentless war on crime, and corruption and to be a unifying leader.


July 1

Mr. Duterte installs Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as the head of the Philippine National Police and promises zero tolerance for abuses committed by law enforcement agencies. He also assures law enforcers of his protection.


July 5

Moving his antidrug campaign forward, Duterte names five former and active directors of the PNP as drug lord coddlers, and orders them investigated and the active officers relieved of their posts.

The five are retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo; retired Chief Supt. Vicente Loot who is now mayor of Daanbantayan in Cebu province; Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao who until July 4 was head of the National Capital Region Police Office; Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio, the former director of the Quezon City Police District; and Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz, the former Western Visayas director who is temporarily assigned at the Camp Crame headquarters.

July 7

Mr. Duterte meets with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua in Malacañang.

Days ahead of an international court’s ruling on Manila’s challenge to Beijing’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

July 12


The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rules in favor of the Philippines, saying China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea has no basis in international law.

July 14

Mr. Duterte asks former President Fidel V. Ramos to head the country’s negotiation with China in the wake of an international court’s ruling recognizing the Philippines’ maritime claims over the West Philippine Sea. But he reiterates that “war is not an option” in dealing with Beijing.

July 15

Mr. Duterte, in a meeting in Davao, warns Chinese-Filipino businessman Peter Lim, one of the three alleged “top tier” drug lords operating in the country, to steer clear of narcotics. “I will execute you … I will finish you off,” the President says during the meeting.

July 21

Mr. Duterte visits the 104th Army Brigade headquarters in Isabela City, Basilan and Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. (The first two visits were part of his tour of 25 military and police installations to seek support and boost troop morale.)

July 23

Mr. Duterte signs an executive order allowing public access to documents and information in all government agencies under the Office of the President.

July 25

Mr. Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address (Sona). Highlights of the address include: a fresh pitch for a shift to federalism; unilateral ceasefire in the government’s campaign against communist guerrillas; application of full military force on Abu Sayyaf criminals; respect for the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling; relaxation of constitutional restrictions on economy; lowering of personal and corporate income tax rates; emergency powers to address traffic problem; review of permits to mining, logging and if warranted, their amendment, suspension or revocation; full implementation of the responsible parenthood and reproductive health law; development of a national broadband plan; and provision of free Wi-Fi in public areas.

July 27

Mr. Duterte’s first National Security Council meeting is attended by four predecessors—former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino III—and other top officials.

Aug. 7

As if reading from a “hit list,” Mr. Duterte identifies 159 incumbent and former government officials, among them court judges, who are allegedly responsible for making the drug problem a “pandemic” in Philippine society. He gives those on the list 24 hours to submit themselves to Dela Rosa or their superiors for investigation “or I will order the military and the police to hunt you down.” Days later, Dela Rosa acknowledges errors in the list. One judge was found to be long dead.

Aug. 9

Mr. Duterte threatens to declare martial law if Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno thwarts the war on drugs.

Aug. 28

Mr. Duterte tells human rights groups that drug users are not humans.

Aug. 17

Mr. Duterte reiterates his campaign promise to double the salaries of soldiers, policemen and antinarcotics agents starting December.

Aug. 20

Mr. Duterte reimposes the short-lived unilateral ceasefire that he declared in July after communist insurgents declared their own truce as both sides set the stage for the resumption of peace talks in Norway.

Sept. 3

Mr. Duterte declares a nationwide “state of lawless violence” hours after suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits detonated a bomb at a night market in Davao City, killing 14 people and wounding 68 others.

He also cancels his official visit to Brunei on Sept. 4 and 5, which would have been his first foreign trip as head of state.

Sept. 5

Mr. Duterte calls US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” when told that Obama intended to raise human rights during their meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Laos.  The White House canceled the scheduled meeting.

Sept. 5- 6

Mr. Duterte makes his debut in the international stage during the 28th and 29th Asean summits in Laos. He also accepts the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Asean meeting for 2017.

Sept. 8

Mr. Duterte arrives in Indonesia for a working visit.

Sept. 9

Saying he is “not a fan”  of the United States, Mr. Duterte vows to pursue an independent foreign policy and refrain from confronting territorial rival China and from picking up a fight with any nation over human rights.

Sept. 26

Mr. Duterte meets with the peace negotiating panels of the government of the Philippines, Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Malacañang.

Sept. 28

Mr. Duterte leaves for a two-day official visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Sept. 30.

Mr. Duterte says that, like Adolf Hitler, he will be happy to slaughter 3 million Filipino drug addicts.

Oct. 2

During a speech at Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, Mr. Duterte threatens to stop the implementation of the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Oct. 3

Mr. Duterte approves an increase in the combat and incentive pay of soldiers starting Sept. 1.

Oct. 4

Mr. Duterte tells local officials that there is no law making it a crime for the President or a mayor to threaten to kill criminals. Mr. Duterte tells troops in Fort Bonifacio that he wants US Special Forces out of Mindanao to appease young Moros and prevent them from going to the terrorists’ side. Mr. Duterte apologizes to the Jewish community in the Philippines over his remarks that, like Hitler, he would be happy to kill 3 million Filipino drug addicts.

Oct. 10

Mr. Duterte announces before policemen in Zamboanga City a P2-million reward for anyone who can give information on police officers engaged in the illegal drug trade and other criminal activities.

Oct. 12

Mr. Duterte announces during the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard in Manila that he will not break any of the Philippines’ security agreements with the US but says that Phiblex 33 is the last joint military exercises during his presidency.

Oct. 16

Before leaving for Brunei from Davao City, he says he will abide by whatever the Supreme Court decides on the petition to stop the burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Oct. 17

Mr. Duterte meets Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at the state banquet in Brunei.

Oct. 18 – 20

Mr. Duterte flies to Beijing and meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He tells a group of Chinese and Filipino businessmen that relations with the US have reached “checkmate” and says “America has lost now.”

He also says that he will go to Russia to talk to President Vladimir Putin “and tell him that there are three of us against the world—China, the Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”

After a series of bilateral meetings and other official engagements, the President’s team brought home $24 billion in investments and financing commitments from China, including private sector-initiated deals.

Oct. 25 – 27

In his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he assures him that he has not struck a military alliance with China and that he will insist on the rule of law in the South China Sea. He also tells the Japan Coast Guard that he is open to joint naval exercises with country.

He tells the media upon his arrival in Davao that he has promised God he will stop swearing. “So you guys hear me right always, because [a] promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people,” he said.

Nov. 1

Mr. Duterte accepts Ramos’ resignation as a special envoy to China but said the latter would continue to have his ear despite their differences.

Mr. Duterte belittles the decision of the US Department of State to halt the sale of more than 27,000 assault rifles to the PNP, saying the Philippines could just turn to Russia for firearms.

Nov. 9

Mr. Duterte stands firm on his decision allowing the burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Nov. 11

Mr. Duterte says Philippine bilateral and defense ties with the US will remain “as is” under the presidency of Republican Donald Trump.

He also warns that he may be forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if lawlessness in the country escalates, but he quickly adds that he will not declare martial law.

He says this after speaking about the rebellion in Mindanao, the worsening battle with the Maute group and the alleged widespread illegal drug operations in the country.

Nov. 26

During the San Beda College of Law alumni homecoming, Duterte mentions a new narcolist with about 5,000 public officials allegedly behind the illegal drug trade. Two days later, in a speech in Malacañang, he shows his audience the pile of documents.

Nov. 28

Duterte shows his audience in Malacañang a 10-centimeter-thick pile of documents containing the “validated list” of about 5,000 public officials allegedly behind the illegal drug trade. He says most of those benefiting from the illicit business are village officials who are earning “easy money”—a reason why he acceded to the postponement of the barangay elections.

Dec. 2

Mr. Duterte calls to congratulate US President-Elect Donald Trump, who has expressed support for the government’s war on drugs. Trump invites Mr. Duterte to New York and Washington, and the Philippine leader reciprocates by inviting Trump to the summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Manila.

Dec. 5

Mr. Duterte accepts the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). He names Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. as the new HUDCC chair.

Dec. 12

Mr. Duterte says in a speech during the Wallace Business Forum that the Maute group has asked the military to halt the offensive or else, “they will go down upon Marawi to burn the place.” Mr. Duterte replys, “Go ahead, do it.”


Mr. Duterte flies to Cambodia for a two-day state visit.

Dec. 15

Mr. Duterte arrives in Singapore for a two-day visit. Singapore officials set aside a ban on the President for burning a Singaporean flag when he was mayor of Davao City after the city-state hanged a Filipino maid in 1995.

Dec. 22

Mr. Duterte signs the P3.35-trillion budget for 2017, up 11.6 percent from the 2016 budget.

Jan. 6, 2017

During his tour of a Russian antisubmarine vessel and sea tanker docked in Manila, Mr. Duterte says he wants more Russian Navy visits to Manila and expresses hope Russia will become the Philippines’ ally and protector.

Jan. 9

Mr. Duterte names controversial singer and blogger Margaux “Mocha” Uson to the 32-member Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Jan. 9

Mr. Duterte signs Executive Order No. 12, directing government agencies to ensure free access to contraceptives for 6 million women.

Jan. 10

Mr. Duterte approves an across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of Social Security System retirees in what Malacañang describes as a realization of his “social contract with the Filipino people.”

Jan. 12

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Manila for a two-day official visit, becoming the first foreign leader to visit the Philippines since Mr. Duterte took office. Abe ends his visit with a trip to the President’s house in Davao City.

Jan. 14

Mr. Duterte says in a speech in Davao City that he will declare martial law if the drug problem becomes “very virulent.”

Jan. 22

Duterte comes to the defense of beleaguered Dela Rosa, rejecting calls for the PNP chief to step down over the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo by policemen inside Camp Crame.

Jan. 30

Duterte suspends the war on drugs at 3 a.m., after a series of scandals in which officers were caught committing murder, extortion and robbery while using the antinarcotics operation as cover like in the killing of the Korean businessman inside Camp Crame.

Feb. 6

Mr. Duterte, during the kickoff ceremony of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s 2017 tax campaign, says that a doctor from Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City checked on him that day. He says he had to undergo “EKG,” also called ECG, or electrocardiogram, a medical test to determine the electrical activity of the heart. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar later claims the President just “made up a story” when he said in the speech that a certain Doctor Del Rosario had visited him to check on his health condition.

Feb. 8

Mr. Duterte calls former President César Gaviria of Colombia an “idiot” for telling him that the war on drugs cannot be won by the police and the military alone.

Feb. 16

Mr. Duterte tells Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who accused that the President and members of his family had millions of hidden wealth, to go to court if he had a case, or shut up if he had nothing new to say.

Feb. 17

Mr. Duterte says he is confident about the government’s case against Sen. Leila de Lima, his toughest critic, who was taken to court by the Department of Justice on illegal drug charges. De Lima is arrested a week later.

Feb. 24

Mr. Duterte skips the Palace-led commemoration of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution anniversary, saying no single person or group can claim credit for the bloodless revolution.

On the same day, he mocks witnesses who claimed that he had ordered vigilantes and policemen to kill drug suspects when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Confessed hit man Edgar Matobato had claimed that Mr. Duterte had personally given orders to members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) to execute criminals, including drug suspects. Retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, whom Matobato tagged as the DDS leader, initially denied the claim but on Feb. 20 came out to say that Matobato was telling the truth.

March 1

Mr. Duterte signs the Paris Agreement on Climate Change restricting greenhouse gas emissions, putting the deal one step closer to ratification in the country.

March 19 – 22

Mr. Duterte rounds up his introductory visit to the Asean region by visiting Myanmar and Thailand.

April 10 – 16

Mr. Duterte visits three Middle Eastern countries—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar—where he pursues efforts to strengthen the protection and welfare of more than a million Filipinos working there.

April 29

Mr. Duterte, as host of the Asean, leads heads of state and leaders in opening the 30th Asean Summit

in Manila.

May 11

Addressing the World Economic Forum on Asean, Mr. Duterte calls attention to the “scourge of illegal drugs that threatens our youth and the future of our societies” and calls for a commitment to realize a drug-free Asean community.”

May 13

Mr. Duterte says that the P3-million increase in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth came from excess campaign contributions during last year’s elections.

May 15

During the bilateral meeting in Beijing, Mr. Duterte reassures Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines would seek a peaceful resolution of its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

May 16

Mr. Duterte signs Executive Order No. 26, which sets standards for the designated smoking areas, bans minors from using, selling, or buying cigarette or tobacco products and prohibits the sale of these products within 100 meters from places frequented by minors.

May 23

Mr. Duterte signs Proclamation No. 216, declaring martial law for 60 days in Mindanao, following clashes between government forces and militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group in Marawi City.

June 17

Mr. Duterte says he was not on a medical break when he disappeared from public view for five days. He also debunks rumors that he was in a coma. He also says that he traveled “incognito” with his close aide to an undisclosed place in Mindanao.

June 20

Mr. Duterte asks forgiveness for declaring martial law in Mindanao. He says he was left with no choice but to declare martial law to wipe out the IS-led Maute terrorists. He vows to rebuild strife-torn Marawi City and restore its charm.

—Compiled by Inquirer Research Kathleen de Villa, Marielle Medina, Ana Roa, Rafael Antonio, Mary Beatrice Ponce and Minerva Generalao


Sources: Inquirer Archives and

Duterte Year 1

Explore on our special anniversary site the Inquirer series of multiplatform reports and commentaries on the gains and challenges during President Duterte's first year in office. Daily content begins June 25 till July 24.

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