“Here are what stand out.”
Among Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s major achievements, seven stand out. On these achievements alone, he can claim to have been a good president.
1. Tax reform, under Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, which made the Philippines one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
2. Build, Build, Build, under Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar who raised infra spending to an average of 5.14 percent of GDP, from Fidel Ramos 1.7 percent; Joseph Estrada 1.62 percent; Gloria Arroyo 1.5 percent; and Benigno Aquino III 2.7 percent.
Duterte poured more money into infrastructure — over P6 trillion in six years — than any president before him, In the last five years alone, the DPWH under Villar built 145,000 classrooms, 2,000 school buildings, 5,555 bridges, and 26,500 kms. of roads, access roads, expressways, and tollways.
3. Transportation modernization under Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade who made mass transportation safe, reliable, and available.
Tugade increased RoRo shipping routes from 120 (servicing 223 ships and 2.8 million vehicles) in 2016 to 181 by 2020. He targets additional 41 to service 325 ships and 4.8 million vehicles.
Art completed more than 200 airport projects, 400 seaports, and 21 new lighthouses to reach 564 lighthouses. New airport terminals were built for Mactan, Clark, Ormoc, and Kalibo. Bicol Airport was restarted after an 11-year delay.
Night-rated airports increased from 14 in 2016 to 20 by June 2021.
NAIA improved from being one of the worst airports in the world to being the most improved by 2018. The laglag-bala racket, where NAIA passengers were suddenly found to have bullets in their luggage (an excuse for huge extortion) stopped completely.
Art has started building the impossible–a subway on EDSA.
4. Free college education for all with 1.6 million enjoying it by 2020, up 36 percent from 2019.
According to Duterte, “we expanded the access of Filipinos to quality and equitable tertiary education through RA no. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which I signed on August 3, 2017.”
This law provides various financial assistance and scholarships to student beneficiaries in state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges (SUCs and LUCs). This law, among others, institutionalized the Free Higher Education (FHE), Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), Student Loan Program, and Free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
5. An independent foreign policy
Manila pivoted to Beijing without losing Washington’s friendship and support. The US was forced to return the Balangiga bells of Samar which were seized by the US Army as war trophy after the locals wiped out an entire infantry regiment of 48 men and wounded 78 other American soldiers. The Philippines had demanded the return of the bells which were used to signal the Filipino rebels to attack the US GIs.
6. Duterte reduced red tape for the masses and made oligarchs toe the line.
Of course, under Duterte, crime went down but extrajudicial killings became rampant. Now, the President faces the grim prospect of being tried before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Our Supreme Court has told Duterte to cooperate with the ICC.
7. Universal health care. Insurance coverage expanded from 90 percent of the population to 100 percent.
COVID-19 proved too complex to contain, despite 9,000 new treatment facilities with 140,000-bed capacity and 36 million in vaccine arrivals. A Philippine Center for Disease Control is planned and a Virology Institute is under construction.
“Thanks to Congress and our revenue generating agencies, our tax reforms sustained our economic growth from the third quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2019, which made the Philippines one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, until the pandemic scourge,” Duterte said in his SONA on July 26, 2021.
Key tax reform measures passed during Duterte’s first five years:
–RA No. 10963 Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law of Dec. 19, 2017 provides hefty income tax cuts for majority of Filipino taxpayers while raising additional funds to help support the government’s accelerated spending on its “Build, Build, Build” and social services program.
–RA No. 11213 Tax Amnesty Act, Feb. 14, 2019 -offers a one-time opportunity to taxpayers to settle estate tax amnesty program that gives reasonable tax relief to estates with outstanding estate tax liabilities
–RA No. 11346 Tobacco Tax Law, July 25, 2019, increases the excise taxes on tobacco products (e.g., cigars, cigarettes) and subjects to excise taxation and regulation heated tobacco products, and vapor products, popularly known as electronic cigarettes.
–RA No. 11467 Sin Tax Law, Jan. 22, 2020, increased taxes on alcohol beverages and electronic cigarettes.
In 2019, Duterte achieved the highest-ever tax revenue as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, 16.1 percent with a 2016-2019 average ratio of 15.3 percent, from 14 percent under Benigno Aquino III and 14.1 percent under Gloria Arroyo.
On March 26, 2021, Duterte signed into law RA no. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), the second package under our CTRP. CREATE is the largest fiscal stimulus for businesses in recent history, projected to provide private enterprises more than P1 trillion worth of tax relief over the next 10 years.
In addition, CREATE is a boon to MSMEs with the reduction of corporate income tax rate from 30 percent, to 20 percent, the largest ever reduction in the country. This law rationalizes fiscal incentives and creates an enhanced incentives package that is performance-based, time- bound, targeted, and transparent.
Coming to power in 2016, Duterte immediately directed all agencies and instrumentalities to respond to public requests and concerns within 15 days.
The enactment of RA no. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act (EODB Act) and the recent passage of RA no. 11517, which allows us to suspend the requirements for national and local permits for speedy response to national emergencies, enabled my Administration to serve our countrymen with world-class quality services, while making the Philippines the country of choice for investments.
Under Duterte, the Philippines improved its rank in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, from 14th in2019 to 95th in 2020.
The administration facilitated the speedy issuance of government-sanctioned permits and licenses.
Since taking effect in August 2016, the Revised Business Permit and Licensing System (BPLS) standards, a joint undertaking of the DILG, DTI, and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), has seen the LGUs’ increasing compliance through the years. More than 7.50 million business establishments were registered from 2017 to June 2021.
To put an end to the public queuing endlessly in public offices, the administration launched the Central Business Portal (CBP) (www.business.gov. ph) Jan. 28, 2021.
This initiative adopted a whole-of-government approach as it linked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), social service agencies, and LGUs to allow applicants to transact their business registrations in one website. The average processing time of registering corporations has been reduced from 33 to 7 days.