14 of 30 President Duterte promises now ‘in progress’

By: Sara Isabelle Pacia – Source Link

In the run-up to his oath taking, 30 promises of Mr. Duterte had made during the election period as a presidential candidate. Many of these promises are even slated to be accomplished in a mere three to six months.

The President, with the help of his Cabinet, has so far focused on fulfilling 14 promises that pertain to drugs, crime and general peace and order in the country, all of which he had continuously vowed to focus on even before assuming the presidency. In his first State of the Nation address later today, Mr. Duterte is expected to include these promises and other mandates he has accomplished in his first month in office.

Other promises in progress are related to curbing graft and corruption, economy, job security, foreign policy, infrastructure, the environment and traffic.

The other 16 that have yet to gain serious traction include promises related to federalism, education and the improvement of the country’s internet speed, which is considered one of the slowest in Asia.

One of the 16 promises, however, can no longer be fulfilled: Pardon former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On July 19, Arroyo was acquitted of charges of plunder for misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds in 2011.

1. Kill big-time drug lords and suppress drug trade

The Duterte administration’s all-out war on illegal drugs has begun, and it shows no signs of slowing down. A centerpiece in his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Duterte has been vocal with his threats to eliminate drug lords and pushers no matter the consequences, a promise Filipinos have either praised for his strong stance or lamented because of the lack of due process afforded to the poorest of drug users.

According to the “Kill List,” at least 331 people have since died in relation to drug use, peddling and trading and more than 100 of this number were killed by unidentified hitmen.

Also in progress is Oplan “Tokhang” (short for “Toktok-Hangyo,” or knock and persuade), where local police visit the homes of and ask drug users and peddlers to turn themselves in and seek rehabilitation. Oplan Tokhang was first launched in Davao City in 2012.

Thousands have since surrendered to authorities in fear for their lives. The next hurdle, however, is rehabilitation, as various reports confirm that there are not enough drug rehabilitation centers in the Philippines to accommodate those who have surrendered.

2. Suppress crime by end of 2016

In the first two weeks since President Duterte took office, the Metro Manila average number of robbery, theft and other crimes against property were lower than the previous months in 2016, according to data from the National Capital Region Police Office. However, crimes against persons–murder and homicide included–have instead doubled. Such data has been attributed to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

3. Improve wages and equipment of police and military

There will be no wage hike for the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2017 because it was not included in the national budget, but Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has said doubling their pay could be done over a staggered period of five years.

4. Roll out Davao City’s law-and-order measures on the national level

Even before Mr. Duterte was sworn in as the country’s President, police had begun to enforce the 10 p.m. curfew for unsupervised minors in Metro Manila. Police, however, have yet to strictly implement Davao City’s other ordinances that limit certain activities to specific hours only, such as a 2 a.m. curfew for drinking in public and curfews for late-night karaoke sessions.

5. Stop corruption in government

On July 5, President Duterte named five top-ranking generals in the Philippine National Police who had coddled or continue to coddle drug lords. Policemen around the country have also been subjected to surprise drug tests; those caught would either have to undergo drug rehabilitation or be relieved from service.

The President also signed a day before his State of the Nation Address his first executive order implementing the Freedom of Information Act in the executive branch of government.

6. Bury the body of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

President Duterte has not backed out of his promise to bury the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Bayani. Former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, son of the late dictator and a friend of the President, said his family was eyeing the burial to be done sometime in September this year.

7. Continue the 4Ps program of the Aquino administration

The National Anti-Poverty Commission under lead convenor Liza Maza is currently reviewing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) launched by former President Benigno Aquino III in order to improve its implementation during the Duterte administration. Maza, however, was a staunch critic of 4Ps and the Conditional Cash Transfer program during her time as representative of the Gabriela party-list group, and said in an interview that she felt “constrained” by the President’s directive to continue the two programs.

8. Halt previous land reform program

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has not included halting the previous land reform program in his priorities for his first 100 days, but he instead vowed that the land disputes in the controversial Hacienda Luisita would be solved by Aug. 7, 2016, or 30 days since he announced it. Before his appointment as DAR chief, Mariano served as representative for the Anakpawis party-list group.

9. Distribute coco levy funds to farmers and develop new coconut farms

Five days before President Duterte took his oath, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol clarified that the distribution of coco levy funds to farmers would not come in cash form but in other forms of service like scholarships and plans to expand the coconut industry. On July 6, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said the government would sell some of its assets within the next three years, including stakes in United Coconut Planters Bank.

10. Promote family planning to prevent overpopulation

The Duterte administration has vowed to begin this school year the full implementation of sexuality education modules. Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia also said P2 million would be set aside in subsequent budgets for family planning and reproductive health services.

11. Lay claim to the nearest Chinese-occupied island

The Philippines was unanimously granted exclusive economic rights to the West Philippine Sea by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the country welcomed the decision and would study it carefully. Before the ruling, Yasay had said he was open to bilateral talks with China to discuss joint exploration.

12. Put a stop to big mining companies in Mindanao that damage the environment

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) first order of business, according to Secretary Gina Lopez, is to audit existing mines in the country to check if they are complying with state policies on responsible mining. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, for instance, the DENR has suspended mining operations. Mining firms in Sarangani would also not be able to renew and acquire new permits while the review is ongoing.

13. Solve present traffic problem in Metro Manila

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a presentation to President Duterte that Metro Manila traffic could be solved in the next 100 days as of July 12. Among the solutions to be implemented are alternative areas to purchase train tickets and “nicer and better waiting rooms” for commuters. The Department of Transportation also launched a week before SONA a review on ride-sharing apps and existing public utility franchises, Before assuming office last June 30, the President had also proposed invoking emergency powers to better deal with the traffic crisis in the metro.

14. Hike infrastructure spending to up to 7 percent of GDP

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno reiterated on July 20, President Duterte’s earlier promise to increase spending for infrastructure projects, saying close to P900 billion would be allotted to hard public infrastructure to make up for years of “neglect.” Other solutions being proposed to speed up construction are 24/7 work hours to finish project and the building of a new air transport within 2016. Diokno, however, said the Philippines might feel the effects of these projects only ten years later.

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