PROBABLY the story that defined the decade for Davao City and Mindanao is the rise of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to Presidency in 2016.
He was the first Mindanaon to become president and his leadership catapulted Davao City to the national and international map, bringing investments and tourism interests from both local and international players.
He captured most of Filipinos hearts with his campaign promise: Change is coming. Duterte vowed his administration would stamp out the country’s problems on corruption in government, high criminality rate, and the proliferation of illegal drugs.
Duterte’s presidency has met both praises and controversies, mostly on his war against drugs and foreign policies pivoting more on China. But are his promises fulfilled over three years in power?
Some were realized, others have yet to be realized, and some were not.
He said in his fourth and recent State of the Nation Address in July this year, he took full responsibility of the consequences of what the government, under his leadership, did and what it did not do but should have done during the first half of his term.
Amid controversies and attacks in the past three years, the Duterte administration’s net satisfaction ratings in previous surveys ranged from “good” to “excellent.”
Under his watch, the following measures were fulfilled: free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation to farmers, free internet access in public places, institutionalization of feeding programs for public school students, universal health care program, free medicines and financial support to indigent patients, mandatory Philhealth coverage for persons with disabilities (PWDs), huge and unparalleled subsidies in favor of government hospitals, increase of SSS pensions for seniors, improvement of the wages of government employees, doubling the salaries of soldiers, policemen, jail officers and firemen, prohibition on illegal labor subcontracting resulting in the regularization of hundreds of thousands of workers, establishment of work-from-home arrangements, and the institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.
On the gains his home – Mindanao - acquired following his election, the island-region enjoyed a surge of investments since 2016 and the figures are showing this year.
Board of Investments (BOI) reported that registered investments in Mindanao increased by 420 percent to P94.7 billion from January to April 2019 compared to P18.2 billion in the same period last year.
The giant leap in investments is attributed to the implementation of most of the committed investments and projects in the early part of the Duterte administration.
The higher investments in Mindanao translates to improved infrastructure, more job opportunities, more income, more revenues for government for basic services and ultimately better lives for the people of Mindanao.
In the remaining less than three years of Duterte’s administration, the president promised to push harder in the pursuit of programs that his administration have started
“I will not merely coast along or while away my time during the remaining years of my administration. It ain’t my style. But I will not stop until I reach the finish line. Then and only then shall I call it a day,” he said.
The emergence of a strongman as the most powerful leader in the Philippines has disrupted the Philippine political landscape, and three years afters, the Filipinos still hopes that he continues to initiate drastic yet effective solutions within the parameters of law to achieve “real change.”