TODAY, we cast our vote. Today, the feud and disagreements stop as we wait for the results. But today is also the right time to thank the man who, for six years, tried to tame the undisciplined, improve the land, and challenge the status quo.

While doing all these, he was questioned and ridiculed by many – mostly by people who could not even identify whether they have done something good for the country. But as an elected official with the topmost position, he endured the blames and criticisms. And up to the remaining days of his service, when people perceive him as a lame duck, he continues to serve.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

It has always been so tough. The war on drugs, the fight against corruption, and the Covid-19 virus that was too complex to contain, zapped your energy and hope to heal the land.

At 71 then and as the oldest person elected as president in the country, you roamed around, set a direction, and built an inspiring vision. Now at 77, though your body is no longer as vigorous as six years ago, you did not leave things undone. You are God’s miracle.

You started with tax reforms which made the Philippines one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. Then you poured more money into infrastructure and your Build, Build, Build Program benefitted the majority. The school buildings and classrooms, bridges, access roads, and others are solid and permanent evidence.

The transportation modernization, the increased shipping routes, the new airport terminals, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which was named most improved in 2018 after it was identified as one of the worst airports before were favorable to us. And who would not forget the laglag-bala racket in the airport? It stopped completely when you came.

Yet, many still attacked you. You may not have perfected your plans but you have succeeded because you had the support and cooperation of the people you have sworn to serve.

Backdropped by controversy in your entire term, you still gained and maintained a very high approval rating; something so rare in our country. This shows that more Filipinos believe in you. This is a fact that your critics refuse to believe. Amid all the accusations against you, people can never deny that you are one strong president who made positive change possible.

Your expletives and controversial statements may drive us up the wall and your unguarded moments may not be as funny as they seem, but all these do not define who you are as a leader, more so as a president of the nation.

These acts are but minuscule compared to the many accomplishments under your watch.

You expanded the access to quality and equitable tertiary education through RA No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. The 149 Malasakit Centers nationwide give the indigents access to financial medical assistance. These are just some of the significant developments under your term.

Yes, your anti-illegal drug campaign earned both criticisms and praise but you were so determined to attain a safer Philippines. The crimes went down but extrajudicial killings also became rampant. Now, you may face the consequence of being tried before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

But all the issues against you do not make you a bad person or a bad president. You started with great visions for the country but they are not always easy to attain. Still, you left an indelible mark in the hearts of the Filipinos especially those who voted for you.

A few days from now, we will know the next president. This election season could be labeled as the worst in terms of campaign strategies. But one will emerge triumphant.

Whoever wins in the presidential race, may we give the person the chance to prove his or her worth. Let us not start the next six years with negativities. Once our mind is set and we refuse to believe from the start, no amount of achievement will change our way of thinking. Simply because that’s what we are.

So, let the change start within us. But first, let us give credit where credit is due.