Back in 2016, when the populist Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte was elected the 16th President of the Philippines, he bared the promise of a corrupt-free and drug-free Philippines. With his campaign slogan ‘Tapang at Malasakit’ (Courage and Compassion), he gained the support of the ordinary people who are longing for a politician who is not corrupt and would impose discipline on the Filipino people.
The Duterte administration could be considered as one of the most controversial and conflict-stricken administrations the Philippines will ever witness. There are a myriad of things this strongman’s regime failed to accomplish, at the top, his flopped war on drugs which lists thousands of controversies of extra judicial killings (EJK) and human rights violation.
It is a fact that the Duterte administration suffered unforeseeable calamities along its days in office: Super typhoons, Terrorist siege, and a Global pandemic are to name a few.
With the impending conclusion of his presidential term, it is due time we recognize and reflect on what could be considered the administration’s greatest accomplishments.
I. Build, Build, Build (BBB) Program
The Build, Build, Build (BBB) Program of the Duterte Administration according to the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development, or SCAD, is the administration's flagship program that intends to bring in the Philippines' "Golden Age of Infrastructure."
The BBB Program aims to increase public infrastructure spending from 2.9 percent of GDP on average under the Aquino administration to around 7.3 percent by the conclusion of the Duterte administration. From 2016 to 2022, it would cost about P8 trillion to P9 trillion to address the country's massive infrastructure backlog.
The BBB Program is the Duterte Administration's greatest project, with about more than five trillion pesos in total money committed to projects such as highways, airports, ports, bridges, and other infrastructure. While some programs were initiated during past administrations, others were completed during the term of our current President. However, there are some that have already begun or are in the process of being created during his term.
The Metro Manila Skyway or Skyway III, which connects the North and South Luzon Expressways, is one of the major projects that resulted from the BBB Program and is now in service. This program has also undertaken a number of additional infrastructure improvements designed to resolve traffic issues in EDSA.
Meanwhile, under the BBB Program, several big railway projects in Metro Manila and nearby areas have progressed. One of these is the so-called Project of the Century, Metro Manila Subway, which will connect the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Valenzuela City and is projected to be operational by the end of this year.
During this period, a variety of domestic and international airports were also built or rebuilt. One is the upgrading of Ninoy Aquino International Airport from one of the worst to one of the top ten most improved airports, as well as the new Clark International Airport Terminal 2 with state-of-the-art facilities and a rail connection. In about one hour, people can be transported to Metro Manila.
Despite the numerous problems that the Duterte Administration has faced as a result of the pandemic, these programs are still underway. At the end of his presidency, he was able to exit the Golden Age of Infrastructure.
Under the current administration, the delivery and completion of "BBB" projects within the target timeframe will not only steer and drive the country's economic recovery during the pandemic and post-pandemic era, but will also strengthen, improve, and further develop land, air, sea, and inter-island connectivity and movement.
In the long run, the completion of all of these infrastructure projects will not only preserve, expedite, and accomplish the country's planned economic growth, but will also boost the Philippines' worldwide competitiveness.
II. Strong Military
"Just one reminder, from the start of my administration, I think it was in Jolo where I said that ‘I will leave my office with a strong military.’ That's what I promised and within our limited income, dito sa gobyerno (of our government), setting aside the small but equitable portion of it sa military, naibigay ko naman siguro (in the military, I think I had delivered), especially in the upgrade of armaments," Duterte said in his pre recorded Talk to the People on .,,,,V February 21, Monday night.
According to President Rodrigo Duterte, despite the government's limited budget, he is confident in keeping his campaign promise of leaving Malacanang with a strong military.
Duterte's strong support, according to his Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, has encouraged AFP members to work harder because they know they can fully sustain their families with their pay while still doing their required duties with the newly acquired military equipment.
How strong are the Philippine armed forces? According to Global Firepower, a well-known online military ranking website, the Philippines is ranked #51 out of 140 countries, it is less than last year, however Global Firepower claims that the Philippines' year-over-year trend is constant, It means neither increasing nor decreasing. The Philippines' Power Index score increased this year from 0.8219 to 0.8076, according to the Power Index. However, this does not mean failure of the Duterte administration.
Based on its rank from 2017, the Philippines reached rank #48 in 2020 and 2021. That is a big increase in rank compared to rank #64 in 2019. Although we are not that powerful yet, our country continues to strengthen its military capacity. . If there had not been a pandemic our armed forces would have been much stronger than they are today. yet the strengthening of military capacity is one of the priorities of our country. The consistently active and ongoing AFP Modernization is one of the very nice achievements of the Duterte Administration. May the next president of the Philippines strengthen it even more so that our country will have enough capacity to defend it against any troublemaker.
III. Independent Foreign Policy
As a developing third world country, probably the smartest yet most critiqued achievement of the Duterte administration is its Independent Foreign Policy which President Duterte stands “friend to all, enemy to none”.
Despite the many instances of name-dragging and threats to certain world leaders, President Duterte had managed to become “friends” with them, as photos on forums and gatherings of him shaking hands with world leaders would get much attention. It can be noted that in the early years of his term, President Duterte had a public spat with then US President Barack Obama. The conflict resulted in the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), allowing US troops to be stationed in the Philippines on a rotational basis. In interviews, President Duterte reiterates his mistrust of the USA as its history of being manipulative colonizers.
The ever-relevant South China Sea territory, however, is the contradictory of the administration’s stand but the reason behind it is quite convincing. In his fifth state of the nation address, Duterte insisted that asserting Philippines sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea would entail going to war with China.
"China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms, we do not have it so it's simple as that. They are in possession of the property... it's akin to they are in possession, so what can we do? We have to go to war, and I cannot afford it. Maybe some other President can, but I cannot," Duterte said.
During his term, several World War III threats have been raised globally as powerful nations such as the USA and Russia take turns in creating conflicts with less powerful countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and the latest Ukraine. President Duterte excludes the Philippines in these conflicts and focuses on being of sound mind aiding those who need it most—the people. In the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Philippine Government offered the land as refuge for those fleeing the country. Today, the Philippines is once again in disagreement of the invasion Russia is trying to do with Ukraine. Considering the economic effect of this war, President Duterte is again after the welfare of the Filipino People.
‘Lapdog’ is a common name called on President Duterte as he is giving in to the “bullying” of China. What we do not realize is his intelligent tactic in keeping our country safe and excluding us from the chaos these elephants are trying to make in which us, the mere grass, would be trampled.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.