By Nat Mariano
Two years under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, members of his Cabinet, with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, organized a series of forums at Philippine International Convention Center this July to discuss the accomplishments and the progressive changes under the Duterte administration.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque had earlier confirmed that the forums, dubbed as “Tatak ng Pagbabago,” was a pre-State of the Nation Address 2018 campaign, allowing the six Cabinet clusters to inform the Filipinos on the long-run effects of the administration’s implementation of its respective policies, programs, and projects.
The three-part forum was a collaborative effort from six Cabinet clusters namely the Economic Development Cluster, the Infrastructure Cluster, the Participatory Governance Cluster, the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster, the Climate Change, Adaptation, Mitigation Disaster Reduction Cluster, and the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster.
‘Tatak ng Pag-unlad’
The Duterte administration recognizes the important role that the modernization and innovation play in building the country’s progress.
The first forum, entitled “Tatak ng Pag-unlad,” focused on the economic development and infrastructure clusters, aiming to expand and increase the access to economic opportunities for Filipinos. Held last July 6, the forum involved talks on job opportunities, public transportation, business and agricultural growth, and infrastructure projects.
“Our economic strategy is anchored on two major programs: the comprehensive tax reform program and the ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure modernization already in place,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a speech.
Dominguez highlighted the salient points of his talk such as increase in tax effort at 14.3 percent of gross domestic product in the first three months of the year because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, growth in overall spending by 25 percent year-on-year as of May, boost in infrastructure spending by 42 percent in the same five months, increase in the share of infrastructure spending to 5.4 percent of GDP, completion of 32 of its 75 large-scale infrastructure projects, and an increase in foreign direct investments by 21.5 percent to a record of $10 billion in 2017.
“Our numbers all point to a positive direction. We are doing the right things at the right time. There is a reason to be confident in the Philippines’ growth story,” Dominguez assured, hoping to bring down the poverty rate from 21.6 percent in 2015 to only 14 percent by 2022.
Meanwhile, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia discussed the socioeconomic status of the country and the state of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the President’s economic blueprint.
Pernia divulged important points including the 6.7 percent growth in 2017 GDP, economy acceleration by 6.8 percent during Q1 2018, generation of 1.52 million additional jobs, and reduction of school dropouts with 94.2 percent in elementary and 84.6 percent in high school, among others.
He stated that economic growth has been high and steady as reviewed using noticeable parameters, making the Philippines one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, keeping up with its neighboring countries like Vietnam with 7.4 percent GDP, and India with 7.7 percent GDP.
Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar presented the “boldest and most ambitious” infrastructure projects currently in the works such as the Luzon Spine Expressway Network, Panguil Bay Bridge Project, the first phase of the Mindanao Rail Project, and Panglao Airport, among others.
The country’s top economists also sought concerns about the rising inflation rate during a panel discussion, noting that current hikes are temporary and natural for a fast-growing economy.
‘Tatak ng Malasakit at Pagkakaisa’
One of the top priorities of Duterte administration is the welfare of the Filipinos. Education, Health, and Livelihood were only some of the aspects tackled by the participatory governance and human development and poverty reduction clusters last July 11.
Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Ano assured the public that local government units will engage their people and communities on a regular basis.
He also emphasized that the DILG continues to address corruption, exact accountability, and promote good governance.
With the use of Hotline 8888 and complaints filed through the Office of the President, there have been 237 Ombudsman decisions served, 50 governors, vice governors, mayors, and vice mayors dismissed, 186 local officials withdrawn police deputation, 57 complaints vs local officials investigated, 16 local officials to be charged for failure to convene BADAC, and eight show-cause orders issued and implemented vs illegal mining operations in CARAGA, among others.
Meanwhile, in his accomplishment report, Budget Secretary and PGC co-chair Benjamin Diokno reported that 1.22 million OFWs have been assisted by One-Stop-Shop Service Centers.
Also, HDPRC chair, Department of Social Welfare and Development Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo pointed out the priority issues such as education as the central strategy, advancing and protecting public health, enhancing social protection, and alleviating rural poverty.
Orogo also emphasized that the Alternative Learning System increased to 641,584. Using 4Ps, the DSWD also assisted around five million kindergarten and elementary students and almost four million high school students. They also increased the number of technical vocational education and training graduates to roughly two million.
‘Tatak ng Katatagan’
Held last July 18, the last of the three forums discussed measures on how to ensure the country’s security, public order, and safety, ensure ecological integrity, clean, and healthy environment, and reduce the vulnerability of individuals.
The President sees the safety and security of every Filipino, peace in the country, preservation of the environment, the strength of the nation, and extending a helping hand – the main points and discussion of the change, adaptation, mitigation disaster reduction, and the security, justice, and peace clusters.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Roy Cimatu asserted that Boracay Island will be protected and preserved following its rehabilitation project.
“Boracay Island will not be seen again as a cesspool. We will extend our efforts to other island destinations with our ‘Greening the Islands’ program,” he said, aiming to curb illegal logging, illegal wildlife trafficking, illegal construction of fish pens and enforcement of other environmental laws.
He said the current administration will continue to take decisive steps to protect citizens from the threats posed by climate change and natural disasters.
Cimatu’s presentation focused on the four major outcomes under the Cluster Performance Project Road Map for 2018 - 2022, namely: preparing communities to respond to hazards and climate change; supporting communities to recover from the effects of hazards and climate change; protecting and conserving natural resources to increase resiliency in ecosystems; and pursuing a low-carbon future.
Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. said that PAF expects 16 new utility helicopters as they are already in the final phase of their modernization program.
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said he will consider holding such talks every quarter next year so that people would get updates on the government’s key policies, programs, and initiatives.
Andanar said the three-part series was a success as it gave various Cabinet clusters a chance to broadcast their accomplishments that the President may forget to mention in his third SONA on July 23.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.