PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is proud and happy that the Filipinos still trust him. During the recent State of the Nation Address (Sona), the President bragged about his stable popularity, saying that only three percent of Filipinos disapprove of him. He was referring to the Pulse Asia survey last month wherein he garnered an 85 percent trust and approval rating.
This only means that the Juan dela Cruzes still support him despite the recent Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese boat. Filipinos still love him even as he went “soft” on China.
Earlier, he even asked the military not to elevate the incident if only to prevent agitating the Chinese government. He insinuated in his Sona that it is not wise to go to war with China simply because we cannot match their military power. He also explained that the Chinese government is “in possession” of the disputed territories.
“I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and is in possession. ‘Yan ang problema. Sila ‘yung in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner,” the President said.
He partly blames the past administration for allowing this to happen. Quite true, he is now in a very disadvantaged position as far as the territorial disputes with China are concerned.
As I have said earlier, no matter how I dislike his persona, he could be doing something right since 85 percent of Filipinos are still backing him up. In all fairness, in less than three years, the free college education was passed into law. The salaries of law enforcers increased and now the teachers and nurses' pay are in the pipeline. The government mass transportation systems like MRT and LRT are ordered to provide free rides to students. There is no more reason for Filipino families not to send their children to school. The parents' equity on their children's education has been cut into more than half.
On the issue of poverty and tax reforms: the President said there was a decrease in the poverty incidence rate from 27.6 percent during the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the 1st half of 2018. The Duterte administration continuously strengthens its tax collection efforts to provide more funds for poverty alleviation. I just hope that common folks are indeed feeling the “change” and such statistics are consistent to the reality on the grassroots.
He asked Congress to support and pass the package 2 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. This is also known as the Trabaho Bill. He insists on raising excise tax on tobacco and alcohol as well.
Good for us. The President is pushing for more taxes and helping the nation rid itself of unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. If his anti-corruption campaign becomes more consistent and effective, then the extra taxes will definitely be useful in fighting poverty and might truly alleviate the lives of many Pinoys.
On the issue of rice and the entry of more imported rice in the country, the President said he will fully implement the Rice Tariffication Law which he signed early this year.
The law, which was sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar in the Senate, intends to liberalize the importation of rice to fight cartels and to provide affordable and wide variety of rice in the country. Instead of limiting the quantity of rice imports, the government will just impose tariffs to countries supplying rice such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and others.
The law also created a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. This trust fund will be used for programs aimed at increasing the income of Filipino farmers. The fund shall amount to P10 billion annually for the next six years, reports said. The fund will be equally distributed to rice-producing areas in the country while the government will maximize allocations for farm implements, supplies, inputs and other needs of the farmers.
Should everything be in place, we can say that the country is sailing smoothly towards genuine change. Get rid of the corruption, get rid of the criminals. Make it easy for everyone to live productively and peacefully. This is the goal of the President. He said he wants all Filipinos to live comfortably. That was his word.
The President’s remaining term is just three years. I hope the Congress will help him realize these programs in the soonest possible time. Let us pray.