CONTEXT: ‘Duterte Legacy’ numbers for SONA 2021

On Sunday, July 25, a day before President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) published an infographic titled "Duterte Legacy."

The graphic, which contained statistics from and on various sectors, touted the achievements of Duterte’s administration since he took office five years ago.

While some of the numbers presented in this infographic were truthful, the other numbers were misleading or should not be taken at face value.

Below are links to Rappler's stories and explainers on some of the sectors mentioned in the infographic, as well as on Duterte's flagship projects and other issues.

Approval ratings

With only a year left in his term, Duterte is likely to defy the lame-duck fate of most Philippine presidents. In September 2020, Duterte’s approval rating in the Pulse Asia survey was at 91%.

Political observers and veteran journalists, like John Nery and Luis Teodoro, attribute Duterte's high ratings due to a “fear factor,” thereby giving survey respondents the feeling that they have to approve of Duterte.

Rappler’s Pia Ranada explains that this could be tied to an SWS survey concluding that a majority of Filipinos think it’s dangerous to print or broadcast material critical of the Duterte government.

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Infrastructure

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) often release numbers of projects completed, but do not clarify that not all seaports, airports, roads, and bridges are newly built.

While a number of new airports were built during Duterte’s term, such as the Bohol-Panglao Airport and Bicol International Airport, the vast majority of these “completed” airport projects only involved maintenance, renovation, or rehabilitation. Further, both the Bicol and Bohol-Panglao Airports were greenlighted by previous administrations.

Numbers pertaining to roads “completed” include those that are maintained, widened, and rehabilitated and upgraded. The number of bridges “completed” includes those that were widened, retrofitted, rehabilitated, and replaced.

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Drug war

Data on Duterte's drug war remain vague because the source of numbers is limited to the administration's own count and they have adopted policies that prevent independent organizations from accurately keeping track of its anti-drug campaign.

It took the Duterte government two years to submit documents on deaths in the police's drug operations after the Supreme Court ordered them to do so. Even then, the files they submitted were considered as "rubbish" by human rights lawyers.

Other entities – like the research consortium Drugarchive.ph, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) review panel – have also reported incomplete data on the drug war.

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Poverty

​​According to data published by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the national poverty rate dropped to 16.7% in 2018 from 23.5% in 2015. However, the World Bank estimated that, as a result of job losses and slower cash remittance from overseas brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2.7 million Filipinos will sink back into poverty.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director Kelly Bird forecast that the poverty incidence of the Philippines could reach 20% in 2021 – equivalent to about 22 million Filipinos. 

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Education

The findings of the now taken down World Bank education report point to an unsettling education crisis made worse through distance learning brought about by the current pandemic. (READ: 80% of PH kids don’t know what they should know – World Bank)

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– Jose Atienza/Rappler.com

Jose Atienza is a Rappler intern. This article was reviewed by a member of Rappler's research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler's internship program here.

Read more on Rappler's coverage of Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address here.