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SoNA 2020

In the eyes of the governed



Four years since President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath as the country’s head of state and defying political history by defeating powerful political clans coming from a troubled region in Mindanao, the former Davao Mayor will deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address on 27 July.

Riding on the populist platform to deliver “transparency and real change” with public’s trust in government completely eroded, Duterte managed to maintain extraordinary satisfaction rating even as his administration was hallmarked with his relentless crackdown against illegal drug trade and often no non sense language and vulgarity to air his frustration over corruption and other social ills.

As his single mandate draws to a close, the President continues to defy the odds, entering 2020 with an 82 percent satisfaction rate, according to consultancy group Social Weather Stations (SWS), an unprecedented feat as historically, the influence of political leaders tends to decline in the last remaining years of their terms. Indeed, Duterte’s last three predecessors were not only left with little political clout that criminal charges were filed against them.

Daily Tribune asked simple folk across the country to grade the performance of the administration, as well as to comment on the government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.
Not surprisingly, a huge majority of Filipinos are convinced the administration is doing everything it can given the card it was dealt with, believing the government is on the right track.

Political will

One of the respondents whose wife, like him, used to work for a foreign mining firm before the Duterte administration forced the company’s closure to implement strict environmental rules, gave the President 100 percent in political will. “Economy… Well, it’s average. I did not get rich, but I did not become poor either. The GDP, and import/export figures are only for the tycoons,” he said.

He also took a potshot on the ongoing noise concerning the closure of ABS-CBN which reportedly displaced some 11,000 workers (records from the Bureau of Internal Revenue show 4,000 employees), but nothing was heard when tens of thousands lost their jobs with the restrictions from the mining industry.

“This old man (Duterte) knows what he is doing. Even before him, minerals called laterites were already being harvested by foreign ships. Those first-class minerals were shipped to Australia, only those lesser class laterites were shipped to China.

“But when he took over, he did put a stop to that. That forced several mining firms to lie low on their operations, some even ceased operations resulting to mass layoff of workers.”

For the COVID-19 response, he said there was no precedent to this pandemic in recent history, and he gave a passing mark to the administration.

Other comments were:

Alex Pobletin, Dean of Students Affairs at Asian Summit College

Covid-19 is a new Virus so almost all world leaders were clueless on how to respond to control and find a cure. Our President based his response strategies on science. But he needs inputs from experts. He made his decisions from the recommendations of all stakeholders.

Constante Cadelina

In my opinion, the President is doing his job, particularly now that the country is faced with a pandemic. For the critics of the President, I hope they will understand the country’s predicament. No one man can face the challenge we are facing. We should all join hands to find a solution to the problems. As a Filipino, we should show our solidarity and unite by showing we care for our country. We should not put all the blame on the President, even if some of his secretaries seem to be failing to fulfill their tasks.

Whoever sits in the Palace, if there are too many critics who will only focus on their discontent, our nation will not move forward.

Earl Liquigan, works at HSBC

I am just going to go with facts. P1.5 trillion in debt in COVID-19’s name. Yet record-breaking infections and deaths, and very anomalously low percentage of recoveries, for a nation of about 110m.

This, despite DoH definitely “controlling” the data. And as per analysis of official DSWD and LGU data, close to 20 percent coverage of assistance against total Filipino households.

Economy? The last time I checked, 20 percent unemployment, economy contracted or negative GDP not unlike what happened last time in 1985 under Marcos. Economy officially under recession.

Total Philippine debt almost or now more than P10 trillion.

Jovie de Castro, former marketing manager

I am satisfied with Digong’s response on COVID-19. He was able to slow down the spread of the disease. It is the DoH (Department of Health) that is not doing its job. They did not anticipate the problem and they are slow in issuing policies. The DoH did not issue any precautions and even failed to alert the public at the earliest time. The country was caught by surprise with the virus.

John Camara, OFW in Dubai

I have no issue with Digong, it’s down the line that the government has a problem, particularly the DoH and with OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration). We cannot fully blame the government because everybody was caught by surprise with the spread of the pandemic. And with the available resource, we should instead follow the guidelines set by the government to stop the spread of the disease.

Our government depended its strategy from the recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO). But the WHO also has shortcomings.

Jessie Brave Hart, works at Travel Agency

Yes. For me he (Duterte) did his best. But he is facing an unseen and mighty enemy.