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Meaning business

/ 12:10 AM October 13, 2016

He may have said quite a few controversial things in his first few months, but President Duterte reaps record trust and approval ratings in his first quarter in office.

The President may have reaped much criticism in the international media for the seeming heavy-handed actions of the police in the war on drugs, but 81 percent of Filipinos applaud the valiant effort to fight a scourge that is an existential threat to our society.

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Those trapped in a jaundiced view of the new administration are quick to predict doom and gloom. But that is just them. The surveys show that the majority of our citizens are adept at separating the grain from the chaff. That majority is convinced the President means business.

Discount the noise. Weigh the achievements fairly. Find out why most of us maintain strong faith and confidence in the Duterte leadership.

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In his first few months in office, the President ventured into areas his predecessors did not dare explore. He has taken the drug problem by the horns, imposing a courageous deadline upon himself to produce results. In three months, incarcerated drug lords were spilling the beans on the protectors of the criminal racket and the volume of index crimes dropped dramatically. No one quarrels with the claim that our streets have become significantly safer.

The President staked out a truly independent foreign policy, to the dismay of old imperialist thinking in Washington. Next week, he will try to open up the rich China market for our exports. He will negotiate support for our ambitious infrastructure program that is expected to bring in hundreds of billions in new financing. Of course, he will try to reopen for the sake of thousands of our small fishermen the rich area around Panatag Shoal.

In the first three months of the Duterte administration, direct investments into our economy spiked. This will create tens of thousands of jobs for our people. The direct investments more than offset the outflow of hot money speculating a hike in dollar interest rates.

True, the peso declined sharply the past few weeks. This is because an impending US Fed interest rate hike made the dollar stronger against every other currency. Even the staid British pound dropped precipitously against the dollar. Notwithstanding the peso’s erosion against the dollar (but not against other currencies), our foreign exchange reserves are at their highest. Balance of payments is once more in our favor.

Traffic flow in the streets of Manila and Cebu is a complex problem that will require years of remedial effort through the construction of new skyways and mass transit systems.

Flight delays due to airport congestion likewise dropped dramatically. This is due mainly through better management. More modern airport capacity is expected further down the road. Bold new projects will be explored as passenger volume is expected to rise significantly in the coming years.

“Tanim-bala” has been ended. This was a crude method of extortion that produced nightmares for traveling Filipinos. So extreme was the fear of this method of extortion that many Filipinos took to wrapping their luggage in plastic.

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The new administration simply changed policy, requiring bullets found in traveling bags to be simply confiscated and the passengers let through. That effectively ended the racket.

Although the war on crime hogs the headlines, the new administration is working hard on all fronts. By next year, income tax rates will be substantially reduced. The emphasis put on modernizing our farm systems will make food more affordable. Reforms in the conditional cash transfer programs will reduce corruption and patronage.

Finally there is a sense that we could make things work in this country. Hard-nosed pragmatism guides this administration’s approach to the most pressing problems bedeviling our people. The President personifies that pragmatism as well as the willingness to work hard each day to bring our people relief soonest.

Little wonder our people trust the President, judging him less by what he says and more by what he does. This explains the survey results.

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TAGS: drug war, economy, foreign policy, peso, Rodrigo Duterte, tanim bala, traffic
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