10 goodbyes for President Duterte

AFTER delivering his almost three-hour valedictory State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte (pic) wanted to explain all his major accomplishments.

He didn’t say goodbye yet, because technically, he has 341 days or about 48 weeks in power and many things can still happen.

But to many citizens, this administration has memorable achievements, good or bad, from both sides of the fence. And some compare the president to his probable successors next year.

My friends tell me that Mr Duterte’s biggest achievement is still our safer communities and streets, after “hoodlums”, “drug addicts” and pushers were removed in our barangays.

Also ousted and neutralised were “abusive cops” who coddled “siga-sigas” and istambays who front for their extortion, drug trafficking and illicit activities. As a result, nationwide crime volume went down by an unprecedented 64%.

Second, this administration gave free Covid-19 vaccines to all citizens. As of today, almost 31 million doses were collected (15.3 million from government, 10.2 million through Covax facility and 2.1 million doses through bilateral donations).

By December, expect 170 million doses with inoculation rate of five million doses per month.

Third, 18 million households, or 90 million people, all over the country received almost 12,000 pesos (RM1,000) each as SAP “ayuda” (help) during lockdowns last year.

This is separate from relief goods from DSWD and LGUs. To many, this doleout is a great humanitarian gesture.

Fourth, at least two million poor people availed of or got “free hospitalisation” in government hospitals through the Universal Health Care, the Malasakit Center and the DOH no-balance billing policy.

This includes poor patients with Covid-19. I have some relatives and friends who were hospitalised for free and recovered. My driver was operated on for stomach problems and did not pay a single cent on his more than 100,000 pesos (RM8,400) bill in Quirino Labor Hospital.

Fifth, Duterte’s very important achievement is the unprecedented “free repatriation” of almost 700,000 overseas Filipino workers from the Middle East and elsewhere.

They were sent home with “free airfare”, “free accommodation” with 30,000 pesos (RM2,500) financial assistance each. The billion peso funds of OWWA were maximised to help our distressed kababayans.

This is a direct reversal of the “miser policies” of the Estrada-Arroyo-Aquino administrations.

Sixth, 1.8 million college students are no longer paying tuition and miscellaneous fees in 112 state universities and colleges and state-run technical-vocational Institutions all over the country.

This is great relief for all parents with their sinking household budgets and a blessing in disguise for hardworking and talented students.

Seventh, the TRAIN law, approved in December 2017, exempted from tax those with annual salaries of 250,000 pesos or 22,000 pesos (RM21,000 or RM1,850) a month. An immediate saving of roughly 75,000 pesos (RM6,300) a year for every worker. And those earning above 250,000 pesos also saved money with lowered tax rates from a high of 30% to 15%.

Corporate income taxes for small and medium scale businessmen are now only 20% from a high of 32%, giving them flexibility for more benefits to workers.

Eighth, the president ordered big businesses to rightfully pay their taxes. Powerful tobacco conglomerate Mighty Corporation paid 50bil pesos (RM4bil) tax settlement.

Tycoon Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines paid its 6bil pesos (RM500mil) debt for navigational charges at the airport. Maynilad and Manila Water both waived their 7.4bil pesos (RM600mil) claims against government after their contracts were reviewed.

Ninth, he pushed for real AFP and PNP modernisation. Not only did he double the salaries of cops and soldiers, we now continue to attain the “minimum credible defence” standard to protect our territories.

We have formidable air and sea assets, including a squadron of missile-capable fighter jets, naval ships and maybe a submarine in the next few years.

And lastly, the very important Build-Build-Build policy invested in a lot of new roads, bridges, superhighways, railways, airports and sea ports in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. A legacy to the next generation. These are just ten top-of-mind farewell accomplishments by this sitting president. The next one, whoever he or she is, should strive to be much, much better. — JAKE J. MADERAZO/Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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