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EOs, proclamations, issuances show Duterte’s priorities

MANILA, Philippines – It’s easy to judge President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership and governance style based on his words, spoken from a podium or behind a standing microphone during a press conference.

But how about doing it based on documents he signs? 

Executive orders, proclamations, memorandum orders, administrative orders, and laws passed by Congress which he greenlights are also indicators of where the President’s priorities lie.

More than his extemporaneous public speeches, they also provide insight into who in the Cabinet he listens to and what issues have come to the fore during the one year and 5 months he has been in power.

Rappler looks into the major Malacañang issuances that have been signed by Duterte or Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by the authority of the President. 

As of December 14, Duterte has signed 530 major documents. That’s 47 executive orders, 378 proclamations, 17 memorandum orders, 9 administrative orders, 37 memorandum circulars, 39 laws, and 3 Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of laws.

Much of the work that goes into laws (republic acts) are done by the Senate and the House of Representatives, with Duterte’s signature the last step in a complicated process. But his signature indicates his support for the measure, as opposed to him leaving the bill to merely lapse into law.

Most of the issuances don't have much to do with specific campaign promises, like proclamations of nationwide or provincial holidays, or laws that create new barangays (Duterte signed 5 of these) or marine hatcheries (14 such laws signed by Duterte).

Types of issuances

Malacañang issuances posted on the Official Gazette website show that some of these documents can easily be categorized according to Duterte’s top concerns: drugs, crime, corruption, defense and security, reduction of red tape, populist policies, economy, Mindanao peace process, and development issues like health and education. (To read the titles of the documents, categorized according to issue, scroll to the end of the article.)

But, first, what are the different types of Malacañang issuances?

An executive order (EO) are acts of the President “providing for rules of a general or permanent character in implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers.”

A proclamation, meanwhile, are acts of the President “fixing a date or declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest, upon the existence of which the operation of a specific law or regulation is made to depend.” Proclamations have the force of an executive order. 

An administrative order (AO) is a presidential act that “relates to particular aspects of governmental operations in pursuance of his duties as administrative head.” 

Memorandum circulars, which are internal in nature, are not covered in depth in this article.

Drugs, crime, corruption

Which presidential concern led to the most number of documents signed by the President? Unsurprisingly, it’s the campaign against drugs, crime, and corruption, totaling 16 signed documents.

Duterte sought to address the issue with 6 EOs, 3 memorandum orders, 4 laws, 1 IRR, and 2 AOs.

These include two laws postponing barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, because of Duterte’s insistence that the polls would only be controlled by narcopoliticians. Duterte also signed a law increasing the penalties for crimes, and another placing casinos under the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

As for EOs, there are the ones creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, inter-agency committee and task force against illegal drugs, the 8888 citizen complaints hotline, and operationalizing freedom of information in the executive branch. 

Another major document was a memorandum order instructing the Philippine National Police to return to the war on drugs.

Defense, security

With the Marawi crisis, martial law in Mindanao, and the collapse of peace talks with the Left, it’s no wonder defense and security was the issue with the second highest number of presidential issuances: 11. They include 4 EOs, 4 proclamations, 2 memorandum orders, and 1 AO.

There were the proclamations declaring martial law, the termination of peace talks with communists, declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army as a terrorist organization, and the declaration of a state of national emergency due to lawless violence in Mindanao.

Through an EO, Duterte raised the military’s combat duty pay and combat incentive pay, streamlined the process for defense contracts, and renamed Benham Rise to Philippine Rise after reports that China was interested in the supposedly oil-rich underwater plateau.

Economy

Largely due to the influence of his economic advisers, especially Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Duterte also signed a good number of documents to ease restrictions on certain investment sectors, adjusting import duties on certain items, and long-term economic policies. 

Duterte signed 9 EOs and 2 memorandum orders. The first tax reform package, ratified by Congress, is now up for Duterte’s signature. Tax reform is the battle cry of his economic managers.

Among the economy-related documents are a memorandum order to ease restrictions on certain investment areas or activities with limited foreign participation, an EO reducing the rates of duty on equipment imported by new or expanding enterprises registered with the the Board of Investments, and the EO adopting the longterm economic plan Ambisyon Natin 2040. 

Health

Duterte signed 4 EOs with a major impact on public health and which entail complicated implementation.

These are EO 26 banning smoking in public and enclosed spaces, EO 28 on limiting the use of firecrackers, EO 12 ensuring strict implementation of the Reproductive Health Act, and EO 4  on the establishment of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers all over the country.

Duterte also signed RA 10932 increasing penalties for hospitals which require patients to pay a deposit before providing urgently-needed treatment. 

Populist issuances

As a politician who likes to appeal to ordinary Filipinos or masa, Duterte made sure to greenlight several “populist” measures, even despite opposition from his economic managers.

He affixed his signature to 3 landmark laws: the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, and the Act Strengthening the Anti-hospital Deposit law.

Through an EO, he also increased the employment compensation and funeral benefits of employees. Through an AO, he authorized the granting of bonuses for job order and contractuals in government.

Duterte also approved the Congress resolution granting a P1,000 increase in Social Security Service pension.

Economic managers had reservations about the pension hike and the law providing free tuition in state universities and colleges, but Duterte okayed the measures anyway. 

Anti-red tape

The President, who declared he did not want to see Filipinos lining up, signed two laws in line with this: the laws extending the validity of drivers' licenses and passports.

Through an EO, he also made it easier for government to use alternative methods of procurement instead of public bidding for government contracts. This raises concerns on safeguards against corruption, typical for any measure that introduces shortcuts. 

Another EO created an Energy Investment Coordinating Council intended to streamline the regulatory procedures affecting energy projects.

Changes to the Office of the President

Duterte also spent ink considerably on issuances that would bring changes to his office.

His very first EO put the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) under the office of his aide, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. It also placed 12 anti-poverty agencies under the office of Cabinet Secretary (OCS) Leoncio Evasco Jr, another of his most trusted. 

Eventually, however,  through another EO, some OP offices that had been transferred to the OCS were transferred back to the PMS: the Public Concerns Office, the Cabinet Support Office, and the Directives Monitoring Office.

Several memorandum orders constituted or reconstituted offices like  Office of the President Performance Management Group, Committee on Decorum and Investigation, Inventory Committee in the Office of the President, and Office of the President Cultural Affairs Committee.

Upon the advice of Cabinet Secretary Evasco, Duterte also issued an EO that reorganized the Cabinet Clusters  to reflect his priorities.

List of Duterte-signed documents, according to issue:

DRUGS/CRIME/CORRUPTION 

Laws: 5

EOs: 6

 AOs: 2

 

DEFENSE/SECURITY

EOs: 4

Proclamations: 4

Memorandum Orders: 2 

ECONOMY

EOs: 9

Memorandum Orders: 2

 

CHANGES TO OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

EOs: 3

Memorandum Orders: 7

ANTI-RED TAPE

Laws: 2

EOs: 2

'POPULIST' MEASURES

Laws: 3

AOs: 1

HEALTH

Laws: 1

EOs: 4

MINDANAO PEACE/FEDERALISM

EOs: 2

AOs: 1

Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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