Last month, the Duterte administration completed their first year in office and many Filipinos are looking back, remembering promises made and wondering if they made the correct choice. During his campaign period, Duterte spoke nonstop about abolishing drugs within six months of entering office. He also promised to decrease red tape in government agencies and contractual employment; fight corruption and give Filipinos the government they deserve. He was different than previous politicians and considered a breath of fresh air.
Yesterday, I walked through the streets of Bacolod City and asked my fellow citizens about their thoughts on the Duterte administration. I asked several questions and not surprisingly, most of them gave me negative answers. Based on my afternoon stroll, I cannot fully conclude that the president failed his first year, but from what I was hearing, the government still has a lot to prove.
What are Your Thoughts on the First Year of President Duterte?
After only a few minutes, I met Manang Vangie, a corn vendor. I asked about her thoughts on Duterte’s first year, to which she shared that nothing’s changed.
“I don’t know miss, it seems like nothing’s change, we’re still poor, as you can see. Can’t you see what’s going on around you? The roads are broken, up to this day the politicians who promised to make this city better seems to forget the words that came out of their mouths during the campaign period. From what I’ve observed, Duterte have has not yet done anything.
The crime rates are still close to impossible, snatchers, thieves, and hold-uppers are still on the loose. All he ever did was say something bad about the United States. I should have voted for Mar Roxas.”
Later on, I also had a chance to talk to manong Raymond, a pedicab driver who voted for the president but as we talked about Dutere’s first year, manong Raymond spoke with remorse.
“Ah! Crap! Of course I know him, I voted for him. Well, actually this year became ever worse as I felt that poverty went from bad, to worse. The US currency is significantly increasing and it seems like we can’t do anything about it; the price increase is hurting out finances, one box of juice used to cost around 10 pesos, but now it’s being sold for 13 pesos.
I voted for him during the 2016 election as he vowed to end poverty. I used to look up to him as I hoped that he would be the answer of poverty in the Philippines. But then again, he’s all talk, actually they’re all the same. All talk and nobody walks the talk.”
Are you in Favor on His War on Drugs?
Aside from the older crowd that I approached, I also had the chance to speak with people in their late 20’s. I met Angela in the mall while she was waiting for her boyfriend and we discussed her views on the drug war.
“Of Course I’m in favor of the drug war. Who wouldn’t want something positive for a change? But it seems like they’re only focusing on Manila and its neighboring cities. Here in Bacolod, nothing has changed.”
Another twenty-something, Andrew, shared his thoughts on the drug war.
“Yes of course there are merits, but then again, I’m also a bit scared because I might get killed due to mistaken identity. Hearing it on the news almost every day frightens me to go out at times. It’s devastating that most of the victims were not able to go through due process before they were killed.”
War on Drugs
Despite the negative feedback, Duterte’s administration has accomplished a handful of projects. In a mid-year report listed by Rappler, the journal revealed that the Duterte government made more than 1,007,153 arrests of drug users. Among those arrested were 73 government officials who were linked to the drug trade.
Philippine Economy Under Duterte
The current administration has also begun its process of strengthening the Philippine economy. They raised a 10-pont Socio-economic Agenda which was presented to both local and international businesses. They also drafted an updated Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act. With the tax reform, Filipinos earning less than a specific amount are exempted from taxation.
Duterte’s Action Plan for Red Taping
Around 5000 cities and municipalities are streamlining business processes. The Bureau of Internal Revenue also came up with a simplified tax clearance and certificate authorization process. Citizens are also given the option to use their credit, debit and prepaid card to process their payments.
I for one, voted for President Duterte, but what has disappointed me the most are the people he appointed to sit in the office. I am not for Duterte, Roxas or Binay, but I am for the Philippines. I can lash out and rant about my country, but I know for a fact that complaining isn’t the best option as it won’t get me anywhere.
I’m disappointed with the fact that the PH government is so ultra-focused on the drug war that they have shunned other responsibilities that need to be taken care of. The alarming increase of the USD and other currencies may be beneficial for some, who earn large salaries but it can be a tough climb for people living below the poverty line.
Written by Abbie Uychiat
Abbie Uychiat studied BS Psychology and is an aspiring independent film director based in the Philippines. She is a dreamer and is juggling the joys of single motherhood, her career as a recruitment specialist and a freelance writer. Part of her mission is to provide a better and cleaner Philippines for the future generation.