Duterte's 100 days with key sectors: What has happened so far

 

MANILA, Philippines – In picking people for key positions in his Cabinet, President Rodrigo Duterte had said he wanted "somebody whom I trust" and a "good manager" who knows what the job entailed.

As Duterte enters his 100th day in power, Rappler lists down what has happened so far in the country's different sectors. Has change really come, or is it still business as usual?

The new administration came in at a time when the Philippines' basic education sector was going through a transition: the nationwide rollout of Grade 11 under the K to 12's senior high school program.

Duterte, who at first opposed K to 12, eventually threw his support behind the program after his education secretary Leonor Briones said he has "no choice" but to implement the program because it is already a law.

But the effects of the shift from a 10-year to a 12-year basic education cycle are being felt now more than ever: over 3,000 college workers have been displaced due to the K to 12 program, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) revealed in August.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said it has already hired over 3,900 college teachers for senior high school, while more budget will be allotted to hire over 53,000 basic education teachers in 2017.  

On salary hike for teachers, Briones has repeatedly explained that any increase should take into consideration the widening gap between public and private school teachers. But if the President really promised a salary hike, Briones said "he would be the one to approve that."

In July, after announcing the start of "incremental" salary increases for the military, President Rodrigo Duterte said public school teachers would be up next.

With the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs, the education department not only wants schools to teach "real life stories" on dangers of drugs; it also wants to provide alternative learning services to young people in drug rehabilitation centers.

Briones revealed during DepEd's budget hearing at the House of Representatives that she has already directed the strengthening of curriculum on drug education, disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation and mitigation, and gender development, especially in relation to teenage pregnancies.

In August, the education secretary who supports sex education in Philippine schools even rebuked institutions that kick out pregnant girls. 

Her department has also committed to a curriculum change that will show the "complete" picture of Martial Law, with the end goal of teaching children to be critical. 

Meanwhile, on higher education, Patricia Licuanan is still chairperson of CHED, and she believes the commission "will continue all the main things we have been doing" under the Duterte administration. 

In July, CHED ordered all higher education institutions to retain 6 to 9 units of Filipino subjects in their general education (GE) curriculum – a good news for advocates of the Filipino language who opposed the new GE that will be implemented in 2018.

The commission is also studying different proposals, such as the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and making drug testing a requirement for admission in colleges and universities.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez showed she means business when she ordered the audit of all existing mines in the country on her very first day on the job.

That audit led to the suspension of at least 10 mining firms, with 20 more recommended for suspension. Only 11 were not recommended for suspension, but even these mining firms have to correct their infractions.

From being a staunch anti-mining advocate, Lopez now pushes for responsible mining. Among her priority legislative agenda is the amendment of the Philippine Mining Act which, according to her, is an "unfair" law that is "skewed towards the mining sector, and not towards our people."

Barely a month into the mining audit, the President appointed a new Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director: Mario Luis Jacinto, who vowed that "no mining company, no business entity, nobody" can buy him. 

During the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)'s budget hearing at the House, Jacinto revealed there is now an ongoing study on how the country can proceed when it comes to industrialization. After all, the President himself made it clear that the country "[needs] to industrialize."

Duterte said this in July, a week after making a controversial statement that he "will not honor" international agreements binding the Philippines to limit is carbon emissions.

On other environmental concerns, the DENR recently revealed it is "going slow" in dismantling fish pens in Laguna Lake. It vowed, however, that the massive dismantling will take place after December 31, or when most of the permits to operate are expected to expire.

This is one step closer to fulfilling the President's promise of transforming Laguna Lake into an ecotourism zone where "poor fishermen will have priority in its entitlement."

Other proposals in the pipeline include the creation of models or areas "where we go just renewable [energy]," and going into enterprise development with one of the department's government-owned and controlled companies, the Natural Resources Development Corporation.

With over 700,000 drug surrenderers to date, all eyes are on the Department of Health (DOH) whose mandate is to provide the right intervention for the drug rehabilitation of every surrenderer. (READ: Inside the brain of a drug user)

As of September, only around 500 of the surrenderers have been admitted in existing treatment and rehabilitation centers (TRCs). 

The new health chief, Secretary Paulyn Ubial, brings to the department her experience in Davao City: community-based drug rehabilitation, with the help of local governments and non-governmental organizations. 

Plans are also underway for the construction of 4 new drug rehabilitation centers in the country. Just this September, Ubial went to China to sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a 10,000-bed mega TRC in Fort Magsaysay, located in Nueva Ecija.

Another challenge for the country's health system is the Zika virus, a public health emergency of international concern which has been established as endemic in the Philippines.

At least 12 locally-transmitted cases have been reported so far, and the health department has already included the prevention and detection of Zika virus in its proposed 2017 budget.

DOH's school-based dengue immunization continues under the Duterte administration and it will be expanded beyond the 3 pilot regions (Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region) to include Central Visayas. Some health advocates remain critical of the dengue vaccine's safety and efficacy.

The Supreme Court's temporary restraining order on government's distribution and sale of implants also continues in this administration, despite the President's pronouncement that the reproductive health (RH) law must be put into full force and effect.

DOH also reported to House lawmakers a much lower budget proposal for family planning supplies – P165 million, compared to the 2016 budget of over P500 million. The department would've wanted a P1.2-billion allocation, calculated based on unmet needs for family planning in the country.

Despite these health challenges, there is good news. The country now has a national hotline for mental health assistance, and Ubial has made it clear that mental health will be one of her major priorities as health secretary.

The department has also started providing basic check-up for the 20 million poorest Filipinos, and the target is to reach every single one of them by December 25 this year. 

The transfer of the controversial Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital to a new location with a much bigger facility will push through, and its construction is funded through the General Appropriations Act and not through public-private partnership (PPP).

Ubial recently revealed that government will no longer engage in PPP in the renovation and upgrade of public hospitals.

In August, the health secretary also went to Cuba for an official visit, after the President himself strongly endorsed for the health department to study the Latin American country's successes in public health.

There, Ubial learned that the Philippines needs 35,000 more doctors if it is to adopt the Cuban model in health human resource.

According to her, the Cuban government has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Philippines for capacity-building and future exchanges.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section below. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

image