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Duterte’s 10-point agenda

/ 05:04 AM October 21, 2021

Amongst all the controversy swirling around President Duterte, I thought it may be useful to look at what has or hasn’t been achieved by this administration based on what he promised to do in his 10-point agenda.

President Duterte, together with Secretary Sonny Dominguez, developed a 10-point socioeconomic agenda at the beginning of his term in collaboration with all identified stakeholders, during a three-day interactive session in Davao. It was a very successful undertaking. So now as we’re coming toward the end of that term, what has been the progress on the 10-point promise?

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Peace and order. The Bangsamoro Organic Law was passed, which previous presidents had failed to do. Despite the brutality of his attempt on eliminating drugs, the crime volume did diminish based on police data. This, though, doesn’t excuse the drug-related killings. Nothing can do that. But the communist insurgency remains, with negotiations for peace failing. They are, however, a smaller and more localized threat now. (Achievement score: 70 percent)

Continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies. These were relatively unchanged from the Aquino administration’s policies, although the poor handling of the pandemic has unraveled much of the progress. (Score: 90 percent)Progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection. Mr. Duterte’s administration passed the TRAIN Law that reduced personal income taxes, and the CREATE Law that lowered corporate income taxes and rationalized fiscal incentives. Other tax reform bills are still pending in Congress despite the President requesting them to be given priority. But the passage of the two laws is already a huge win for Filipinos. (Score: 90 percent)

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Increase competitiveness and the ease of doing business. The Duterte administration approved the ease of doing business law, which created the effective Anti-Red Tape Authority responsible for spearheading reforms in doing business. The Arta, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Information and Communications Technology have partnered to streamline and digitize business registration procedures at the local government unit (LGU) level, and are working on digitization at the national level. (Score: 80 percent)

Accelerate annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of gross domestic product. That promise was achieved: The government did spend 5 percent of GDP, double or even more, than previous presidents had done. But actual achievement has been less than what it could have been. (Score: 75 percent)

Promote rural development. The Duterte administration passed the rice tariffication law that removed quantitative restrictions, and replaced it with a tariff whose revenues will go to the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. That was a courageous step forward. But too little else was achieved. (Score: 40 percent)

Security of land tenure. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been partnering with LGUs to accelerate the land titling process. But progress has been spotty, and derailed by COVID-19. (Score: 50 percent)

Invest in human capital development. The administration approved the free tertiary education law, a measure that provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges across the country. The Universal Health Care Act was passed. It is working, albeit affected by the corruption in PhilHealth (now being addressed). The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development was recently established. Being a new department, it’s currently reviewing all laws and issuances affecting the housing sector and what recommended measures for change are needed. (Score: 80 percent)

Promote science, technology, and the creative arts. It’s a sector that remains not well-developed. It’s short of funds, with the proposed Science for Change Program bill still in Congress. There is one, albeit limited, achievement: the Balik Scientist Act, which provides benefits to Filipino scientists who will be returning to the Philippines to share their knowledge and skills. (Score: 40 percent)

Improve social protection programs. The administration approved the 4Ps law that institutionalized the government’s conditional cash transfer program. During the time of COVID-19, the government also provided emergency subsidies to vulnerable sectors, including small business wage subsidies and cash transfers to millions of poor families. But like so many government programs, the beneficial intent intended wasn’t fully achieved. (Score: 80 percent)

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Strengthen the implementation of the Reproductive Health Act. Mr. Duterte signed an executive order to accelerate the implementation of programs to attain zero unmet need for modern family planning. But implementation of the law has been slow. (Score: 50 percent)

We may complain, as we should, of some of the excesses, misdirection, and abuses under President Duterte. But in terms of getting things done, this is a respectable performance.

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Email: [email protected]

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