Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda and trust rating

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

Every time a Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey on the satisfaction and trust ratings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte comes out people always wonder why the president has been able to maintain a high mark of approval despite the brouhaha raised by some group of people and organizations, both local and international, about his controversial war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, etc.

It must be confusing and frustrating to Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk in the senate and in our society, in general, why even as they hurl a fuselage of personal accusations against the president and his family, still it does not make a remarkable dent on his popularity and approval ratings.

But for the people who were inspired by Duterte’s candidacy and continue to support his presidency there has been a noticeable change in the kind of leadership the country needed which could have never happened had the Roxases, the Binays and the Poes won.

Duterte’s war on drugs, criminality and corruption are in itself big changes toward better future for country and people which can only be fought and sustained by somebody with political will to carry it out.

Events have shown that Duterte is no rubber stamp or a stooge of anybody, either here or abroad, and to the consternation of many that wants to meddle in his governance.

Duterte’s declaration of independent foreign policy had silently earned the ire of some friendly nations at first but is being accepted now as he saw the realities of the times where China has become the major regional power in Asia and the importance of improving relations with non-traditional including Russia, Japan and India.

This is a paradigm shift in our geopolitical relations that perhaps only Duterte could have thought of and it is earning him the respect of the whole world.

Duterte should be credited for where we are now as a nation, especially in having discovered earlier, rather than later, that narco-politics have engulf the country already. He is doing everything possible that this country will not go to the dogs.

What should make everybody hopeful, however, is that Duterte, while relentless in his war against drugs, corruption and criminality, is also making sure that his 10-point socioeconomic agenda listed below will continue to be followed through. This program in his presidency being implemented now is what is helping Duterte also earn his high satisfaction and trust ratings.

  1. Continuing and maintaining current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
  2. Instituting progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection while indexing taxes to inflation;
  3. Increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business, drawing upon successful models used to attract business to local cities such as Davao, as well as pursuing the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except with regards to land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investments;
  4. Accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of the gross domestic product, with public-private partnerships playing a key role;
  5. Promoting rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism;
  6. Ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies;
  7. Investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, as well as matching skills and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector;
  8. Promoting science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development;
  9. Improving social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program, in order to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and
  10. Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.

 

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To go on killing or give up killing on war against illegal drugs

 

It is very unfortunate that I have to write about the subject upon deciding to resume blogging after my second successful total knee replacement surgery.

I could have chosen something pleasant to write about but the reality that the country is facing today relative to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs continue to be the defining thrust of his administration now and, perhaps, for the rest of his term, that the end result could either break us or make us citizens of a nation with potential future. Thus, the subject makes it all the more important for me.

It cannot be denied that we are a nation trying to survive an identity crisis that has been so demeaning all these many, many years – that of being a corrupt nation with equally corrupt political officials.

We have seen presidents come and go with reform policies and programs for a better future for the country and it s people. But at the end of their terms the country is no better than before and the Filipinos find themselves mired even more in the morass of corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.

The fact that I mentioned illegal drugs does not mean that this scourge was not there before Duterte’s presidency came into the picture. Corruption comes in many forms and shapes, but like the way politicians and government officials discovered that there was money for their deep pockets in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), they also found out that there was even a continuous flow of dirty money in illegal drugs worthy of being nurtured for political purposes regardless of the negative consequences it had on the poor users, just like the PDAF scam had an adverse impact on the marginalized Filipinos for which it was intended for.

One impressive difference between past presidents and Duterte today is that the latter knew, after experimenting in Davao City as its mayor, what illegal drugs can do to people’s brain and what bad publicity can do to a place resulting from crimes committed due to its usage.

Duterte took his task as mayor to heart and turned the city around by using his unorthodox style of leadership manifested by guts, political will and bullets – all for the love of his city and his belief that the residents deserved a better life.

Duterte won the presidency in 2016 because most Filipinos got dissatisfied with conventional politicians leading the country. They had had enough.

Part of Duterte’s presidency is history now and it looks like that the remainder of his term will have history repeating itself as many times over for there is no turning back now in his fight against narco-politics that if not controlled will determine the destiny of this nation.

The country today is undergoing birth pains in charting its destiny brought about mainly by drug related killings that are so prevalent and far reaching, even to include the Marawi siege.

Many are speaking out now against what they call the ‘slaughter of mostly poor Filipinos’ especially in the wake of the outrage over the killing of Kian Loyd de los Santos, a grade 11 student, during a police drug operation in Caloocan City last week.

Yes, there is a very high probability that the policemen responsible for Kian’s arrest may have committed murder, but should we allow this unfortunate incident to derail the momentum  Duterte’s administration has in bringing deliverance to this country from the menace of illegal drugs engulfing the country today? Duterte himself has not minced words in his doubts about the killing of Kian. Even the Philippine Ambassador to the UN, Teddy Locsin Jr., showed his disgust about the killing when he called the arresting cops “hijos de putas!”

I am not losing hope for this country with Duterte at the helm and even if the killing continues, for to give up killing, which cannot be avoided if the drug lords, peddlers and users insist on destroying this country and its youth, is tantamount to letting the unscrupulous  people triumph over the vast number of Filipinos praying for deliverance.

 

Duterte’s first year in office

 

I have lived long enough to see presidents come and go in this country but I have never seen the likes of President Rodrigo Duterte who hit the ground running at a considerable speed upon assumption of office.

While Duterte may have been ready with his administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda that included among other things the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices and family planning, he, however, entrusted the execution of all these to his social and economic mangers while he took it upon himself to lead his much vaunted campaign promise to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs , corruption and criminality.

As an unconventional politician whose approach to solving problem has been described as ‘out-of-the-box’, not to mention the colorful language he uses especially when piqued, is what has endeared him to the Filipinos which is why he was overwhelmingly voted to the presidency.

I am not going to discuss here Duterte’s defining moments individually which includes among other things his running after and eventually putting Sen. Leila de Lima in police custody for using drug money to finance her senatorial bid, his alleged killings and human rights violation stemming from his bloody war on drugs that has been harshly criticize here and abroad by international human rights agencies and advocates, his antagonistic stance towards the U.S., his shift from a U.S. dictated foreign policy to an independent foreign policy, his open arms policy towards China despite the latter’s incursion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea, his diplomatic sortie to Russia, and last but not least of his controversial decisions is the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

For me what is important in Duterte’s 365 days in office is putting into context how the country and the Filipino people are today having Duterte as our president.

I do not know about you, but it makes me wonder, if not guessing, how it would have been for the Philippines and the Filipinos had we had Roxas, Poe or Binay as the president.

Knowing what we know now about the wide-ranging prevalence and gravity of illegal drug use in the country, could any of the other presidential aspirants, had they won, had the political will or the gumption to declare war against it, as Duterte has done, knowing that you are up against ruffians and monsters?

Could they have had the guts to discover and say that we are now a narco-political country?

Would talking to just the MILF, passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and establishing a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, prevented the Islamic State-inspired Maute group from storming and creating havoc in Marawi City.

Would they have the potency to declare martial law?

Perhaps Divine Providence determined the course that Duterte be president, warts and all, for he has what it takes to lead and fight for the Filipinos in preserving the integrity of the country and having it respected.

This in essence is what is Duterte’s presidency about one year after and in the next 5 years, God willing.

 

Shelve barangay elections or appoint barangay officials

President Rodrigo Duterte

Once more the country faces a dilemma on whether or not the barangay elections are to proceed in October this year after it has been postponed in October 2016.

If the decision were left to ordinary politicians, and more so those belonging to the opposition, definitely the clamor to proceed is deafening as it has been today for the simple reason that the voters have already been deprived of their rights to choose their leaders.

Unfortunately the traditional politicians mentioned above have to contend with somebody who is not only an unconventional politician but the president of the country who knows whereof he speaks because he has the voluminous intelligence reports in his possession that potentially show the danger of his determined war against illegal drugs being derailed and jeopardized.

The stark difference between the arguments of those advocating for the holding of elections in October 2017 and the reservations made by President Rodrigo Duterte against it is that while the typical politicians only think about the rights of the voters, Duterte has the welfare of the country and well-being of the Filipino people foremost in his mind, which is to say a long term commitment of his presidency that he wants to see succeeding.

Duterte could not have been more emphatic in his resolve to win his war against illegal drug as when he gave a speech recently before the first general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines saying that he did not want the barangay elections held this year due to the purported influence of drug money in the elections.

His statement was simply a reverberation of what he has been telling everybody during his visits all over the country, saying, “Narco-politics has entered the mainstream of Philippine politics.”

It is in this frightening backdrop that President Duterte wishes that a law be created giving him the mandate to appoint the over 42,000 barangay officials nationwide instead of having them elected in October as scheduled.

In as much as Duterte has in his possession the verified information about the deep-rooted involvement in illegal drugs of many barangay officials then it is only right and just that he be given the authority to appoint those unsullied and exemplary individuals to head the barangays if only to insure that, like illegal drug trades, corruption and criminality will also be stopped.

This exceptional mandate could only redound to the benefit of the country and the Filipino people.

De Lima denies PH becoming narco-state

 

Archenemies President Duterte and Sen. de Lima

Archenemies President Duterte and Sen. de Lima

In her efforts to extricate herself from the deepening hole of illegal drugs that she got herself into and in her struggle to clear and save herself from her alleged involvement in the corrupt business of the drug trade emanating from the very unlikely place, the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), embattled Sen. Leila de Lima is now vehemently denying that the Philippines is becoming a narco-state.

It was of course President Rodrigo Duterte who alarmingly declared that the election of former justice secretary Leila de Lima as senator has opened the doors for government to be turned into a narco-state.

But how else would one interpret it as de Lima has become the subject of investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the House of Representatives where witness after witness all have implicated her as having benefited from the proceeds of illegal drug trade which was ultimately used for her election.

“We have been plagued by this drug menace but we are far from being a narco-state,” de Lima said.

What an understatement and she thinks she continues to have the credibility to tell it to the Filipino people, when in fact she already has lost all her moral ascendancy to do it.

Duterte already knew ahead of time the covert participation of de Lima in the illegal drug trade and it was precisely for this reason that he announced the postponement of the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled on October 31 because he was sure that as de Lima got elected by drug money, so would drug money be used to elect some unscrupulous barangay officials.

Perhaps it was also Duterte’s intelligence network in all levels of government that forced him to call for the postponement of the barangay and SK elections because in his latest list of public officials and uniformed personnel linked to the illegal drug trade there are, he mentioned, 5,000 barangay captains listed and what is even worse, according to him, is that there are 6,000 policemen included.

Indeed, you cannot discount the high probability that in the same area unscrupulous drug-supported local government officials and policemen are in cahoots with one another.

So how could de Lima, therefore, disclaim that the country is far from being a narco-state when she herself is a living example of what can become of a narco-state.

In fact only very recently police chief Jovie Espenido of Albuera, Leyte accused De Lima of receiving at least P8 million in payoffs before the May elections from Kerwin Espinosa, allegedly the head of the biggest drug syndicate in Eastern Visayas and son of Albuera Mayor Ronaldo Espinosa, who has been arrested on charges of possession of illegal drugs and unlicensed firearms while his son is at large.

It is good to hear what de Lima has to say about this accusation, but being a good lawyer, too, she has taught herself to deny everything, as she has been doing all these times that she has been under the spotlight.

 

The reality of Duterte’s war on drugs

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has just completed his 100 days in office but the way controversial events have transpired relative to his bloody war on drugs that has impacted here and abroad leading to his enraging attitude towards the US, the EU and the UN, and openly declaring that he was going to establish ties with China and Russia, it gives one the impression that he has been in office for over a year or more, perhaps.

But what is more important really than how Duterte is being perceived by the outside world is the reality that not only is the country awash with depraved and incarcerated characters called drug lords making/importing into/hoarding illegal drugs for distribution by equally degenerate drug pushers to the derelicts and often times lowly users, but dirty drug money is already used to fund the elections of some of our local and national officials.

Not only that. Dirty drug money is also the source influencing the misdeeds of government officials like the police, the judges, etc.

What has appalled the nation, however, is the fact that illegal drug distribution emanates from the very institution that people thought can securely confine and rehabilitate prisoners.

Alas, these criminals are living it inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) like kings!

And what is equally alarming, if not dismaying, is that those tasked to manage the NBP are aware of what is going on inside but opts to not listen, hear, and talk about it until the shit hits the fan, as what has happened now with the whole scandalous mess being investigated by the House of Representatives.

What I just want to point out here is that had it not been for the guts of Duterte we would never have known the extent, the magnitude of illegal drugs circulating and how it is being proliferated in the whole country.

The only downside that I think is happening in Duterte’s war on drugs is that the latter is now feuding with the US and is cozying up instead with China and Russia to the trepidation of many.

Somehow I could understand Duterte’s feelings for his show of animosity towards the US for criticizing his hardnosed approach in fighting drugs, but being president now of a sovereign country that he has promised so many times to serve and die for if necessary, would it not be appropriate for him to show more restraint without being cavalier and act more nationalistic without being vituperative and disrespectful for our own good?

This is the only way to act and position ourselves in this ever changing geopolitical order of world affairs for our own advantage.

The cat finally out of the bag – Duterte name names

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

What has been kept a secret for quite some time by President Rodrigo Duterte has now been divulged straight from the horse’s mouth.

This has reference of course to the much anticipated announcement everyone has been waiting for about the personalities who are allegedly involved in protecting and tolerating the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the country, other than the five PNP generals earlier mentioned.

The list of names of police and military official, judges and ranking local government officials can be found at this link: http://www.rappler.com/nation/142210-duterte-list-lgu-police-officials-linked-drugs.

It appears like these are just the first batch of government officials involved in illegal drugs and that there will be more names to be mentioned later, but initially the names revealed early Sunday of Aug. 7th have been ordered by the Duterte to report to their mother units within 24 hours. This means that the police and military officials should report to the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, respectively, the judges to the Supreme Court and the local government official to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

President Duterte specifically warned the police and military officials, retired and otherwise, to report as instructed to the authorities concerned or else he will order the entire AFP to conduct a manhunt on them.

Not only that. Duterte also ordered the cancellation of “any and all” firearm licenses issued to those whom he named.

These are forceful words and instructions indeed coming from a determined president who wants to save this country from becoming a narco-political one.

Needless to say that every department concerned now will conduct an investigation as to the culpability of those mentioned, but what a shame if found to be true!

This woeful disclosure by Duterte resulted in his equally dolorous question he posed upon everybody: “Bakit tayo umabot sa ganitong magnitude? (Why did we get to this magnitude?)”, and which he himself answered: “Kasi (Because) the government is into it.”

“I am sorry for my country,” he said further, lamenting the 600,000 estimated numbers of drug addicts, pushers, and users nationwide.

Even if this is just an estimated figure, just the same the number is staggering and the more distressing questions actually are: How many more will be exploited by these sons-of-bitches? How many more kids will be robbed of their future? How many more families will be ruined? How many more unscrupulous people will get into politics supported by equally unscrupulous police and military personnel buying their way into the realm using drug money and making the lives of most Filipinos more miserable than already is?

That we have a Duterte leading the fight against illegal drugs and boldly naming influential personalities who are involved in its trading and proliferation, where no previous presidents ever dared to declare war against this nefarious business in our society, is surely enough reason to rejoice for it gives hope and optimism for the country and people.

If illegal drugs can be curtailed, so, too, can corruption and other crimes detrimental to growth and development of a country be stop.

Yes, we are all seeing that the high price in Duterte’s government fight against drug trade is the lives lost. Many human rights advocates, and especially the high officials of the Catholic Church, are feeling and acting melodramatic about the whole relentless offensive against the proliferation of this evil in our society.

But I think we just have to trust Duterte’s leadership for he has declared war against drugs, criminality and corruption not for personal glorification but for the noble purpose of ensuring that the generation of Filipinos after us will have a country that they could be proud of – peaceful, stable and developed with the minimum of social ills.