SONA 2016: The Duterte promise tracker

Pia Ranada
What has President Rodrigo Duterte done in his first month in power to fulfill his campaign promises?

DUTERTE'S LEADERSHIP. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the 3rd cabinet meeting at the State Dining Room of the Malacañang Palace on July 12, Tuesday. Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

When President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25, he would have been the country’s leader for 26 days.

That’s 26 days out of the 6 years he has to fulfill the promises he made to Filipinos when he campaigned for the presidency. Time is ticking for Duterte who has given himself strict deadlines and targets.

Below is a list of Duterte’s major campaign promises and the first steps he or his appointees have taken in order to fulfill them.

The list shows that out of all his promises, those that have to do with crime and drugs, red tape, and peace have received the most attention.

Suppress drugs, crime in 3 to 6 months

MASS SURRENDER. A Philippine policeman stands guard as people line up to register with the police during the mass surrender of some 1,000 alleged drug users and pushers in the town of Tanauan, Quezon. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

93,000 supposed drug addicts have surrendered as of July 22, according to Duterte himself during a speech in Maguindanao City. (READ: Duterte drug war in numbers)

702 anti-illegal drugs operations were conducted from July 1 to 20, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

3,005 drug suspects were arrested from July 1 to 20, according to the Philippine National Police.

331 people, supposedly drug suspects, have died from June 30 to July 21, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The figure includes those who died in police operations and those who were allegedly killed by hitmen.

Duterte named 5 police generals allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade. Soon after, he named 3 top Chinese drug lords.

The PNP’s elite striking force, the Special Action Force (SAF), has taken over security at the New Bilibid Prison where top drug lords are detained and from where they allegedly continue to run drug trafficking operations.

Increase of police, military salaries within 3 years

SECURITY MATTERS. President Duterte leads a command conference in the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City. Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said there will be no salary increase for police and military, at least for the year 2017. He said he still has to discuss the matter with Duterte given the need to address other pressing financial matters such as the money owed by the government to the pension fund of soldiers and police. 

Eliminate red tape in government and make sure Filipinos don’t have to line up when dealing with government offices

LINES. Voters wait in line at the local Comelec office of Manila as the first day of official registration for the coming Sangguniang Kabataan elections start on Friday, July 15, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Duterte has given this campaign promise a special mention in several important speeches, including his inaugural address. It was among his first marching orders during the first Cabinet meeting.

Cabinet members have taken initial steps to comply with Duterte’s order. Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez created an Anti-Red Tape team headed by an undersecretary and released a Department Order for the team to “formulate measures designed to speed up work-related processes” in the DOF and its attached agencies like the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he intends to conduct a performance audit among DOLE employees to address complaints of delays in transactions facilitated by the agency.

On the weekend before the SONA, Duterte signed the Freedom of Information Executive Order which orders all departments and agencies of the Executive Branch to release documents, records, and transcripts requested by any citizen in 15 days. Heads of agencies and officers who fail to abide by the EO will face administrative cases.

The Executive Department is launching its 8888 citizen hotline in August in order to give Filipinos a direct link to Malacañang Palace for complaints and concerns about government agencies.

The 911 emergency hotline was tested by Interior Secretary Mike Sueño last Thursday, July 21. The hotline replaces the current 117 emergency number and will be officially launched on August 1. Citizens who call 911 will be connected to the Presidential Action Center (PACE).

Duterte’s first Executive Order put 12 agencies related to poverty reduction under Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr in an effort to “streamline” anti-poverty programs.

Begin peace talks with Communists and Muslim Mindanao separatist groups

MUSLIMS OF MINDANAO. Filipino Muslims participate in morning prayers as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Grand Mosque in Cotabato City on July 6, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MARK NAVALES

The first formal negotiations between the Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines are scheduled to take place from August 20 to 27 in Oslo, Norway.

Duterte and Peace Process Adviser Jess Dureza have begun informal talks with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.

Shift to a federal form of government

PITCH FOR FEDERALISM. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks about federalism in a gathering of Muslim leaders in Davao City. Photo from Presidential Photographers Division

Duterte has begun talking to local government leaders about federalism. His allies in Congress, particularly incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and incoming Senate President Koko Pimentel support the shift.

But Duterte has also said that if majority of Filipinos vote in a plebiscite that they don’t want federalism, he is ready to support the Bangsamoro Basic Law which Moro separatist groups have long wanted.

Phase out contractualization

LABOR RIGHTS. A laborer and union member from the Bagong Buhay Arastre and Stevedoring, Inc. calls demands for the govenrment to strictly implement fair labor practices. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Labor Secretary Bello says he is considering requiring companies to regularize 80% of their employees. He counts the abolition of the “end-of-contract” or “endo” practice as among his priorities. To get things started, Bello said he would consult with labor groups and companies.

Maintain Conditional Cash Transfer Program 

REDUCING POVERTY. A Lumad child plays inside an evacuation center. Photo by Hensell Hebaya/Rappler

The highly popular CCT program remains in the government’s 2017 budget with an allotment of P54.9 billion, according to the Department of Budget and Management.

But Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said she still needs to review the CCT program in order to decide whether or not to continue it. Taguiwalo prefers more “long-term” economic initiatives like livelihood programs, believing the CCT program is only a “stop-gap” measure.

Require all hospitals to have a facility for very poor patients

HEALTH AGENDA. Students react as health workers from the DOH inject them with the dengue immunization at an elementary school in Marikina City on April 4, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Duterte’s very specific promise to have an area in hospitals with 10 to 30 beds for the poorest Filipinos is not exactly what Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial has in mind but she too seems intent on improving the access of indigent Filipinos to health care.

In a GMA7 interview, Ubial said she wants to find a way to provide annual mandatory medical check-ups for 20 million poor Filipinos. However, she also said she would rather focus on primary health care and preventive services than on hospitals.

Provide free irrigation for farmers

THIRSTY RICE. Rice farmers depend on irrigation for their livelihood. Photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is determined to provide farmers free irrigation by 2017, he said in a June 17 statement.

Even before he took his oath as secretary, Piñol had harsh words for a National Irrigation Administration spokesperson who said providing irrigation for free would disrupt the agency’s operations. Piñol told NIA Administrator Florencio Padenal, “The issue of free irrigation for the Filipino farmers is a Presidential commitment and it is non-negotiable.”

Improve Metro Manila transportation, ease congestion

TRAFFIC. The Japan International Cooperation Agency says traffic will cost the Philippines up to P6 billion a day by 2030. File photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP

Duterte has asked Congress to grant him emergency powers to deal with the Metro Manila transportation crisis. In the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon has filed a bill giving Duterte such powers for 2 years. A similar bill needs to be filed in the House of Representatives. 

On July 18, the Department of Transportation and Communication revealed its plans to address the traffic crisis. This includes a more “streamlined” system of enforcing traffic regulations on EDSA, a system which involves 10 traffic zones with dedicated Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Highway Patrol Group personnel.

The DOTC said it intends to increase the passenger capacity of the mega city’s train system by adding more coaches and building extensions for LRT 1, LRT 2, and MRT 7 over the next 3 years.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade gave assurances that commuters would be able to feel change in the first 100 days of the Duterte administration. 

Establish tourism, agricultural, and industrial hubs in the countryside to create jobs

INDUSTRIALIZATION. A worker accomplishes his tasks at a car manufacturing plant. File photo by Romeo Gacad / Agence France-Presse

New Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Communication Technology Ramon Jacinto said he is already looking for land, even entire islands, that can be leased to multinational companies for 50 years or more. The idea is for these companies to turn the areas into business hubs attracting more investments and creating more jobs for local communities.

Introduce P1 billion fund in every region for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)

FARMER ENTREPRENEURS. The P1 billion fund per region may benefit farmer cooperatives

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who used to head GoNegosyo, is determined to carry out this promise. Lopez, quoted by the Inquirer, said parts of the fund can be used as loans for MSMEs and for the DTI’s shared services facilities program which provides infrastructure and equipment that can be shared by multiple beneficiaries, cooperatives, or communities.

But it’s not clear if the Duterte administration will push for the P1 billion per region fund in the 2017 budget. 

Create Overseas Filipino Workers Department

LONG DISTANCE. OFWs line up at NAIA. Photo from Agence France-Presse

This proposed new department is still being studied, said Labor Secretary Bello. Lawmakers in both Houses of Congress have already filed bills seeking to create the OFW department.

– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.