Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2 March 2019


Will wonders never cease. You will remember, Reader, that my last column praised, not faintly but with sincerity, Congress’ passing and President Duterte’s signing the Rice Tariffication Law. It was an important first step in straightening out our perennial rice dilemma of prices too high for the consumers and too low for the farmers. I also, if you will remember, praised another law which the President signed, the Universal Health Care Act, which is a very important social safety net, especially for our senior citizens and our poor. Would that these two laws be implemented properly. That’s the real challenge.

But hardly had the ink dried on this newspaper when Duterte praised himself rather effusively last Saturday for fulfilling ALL of his promises, except for the Edsa traffic problem (which could have been solved, he claimed, if Congress had only given him emergency powers). “Wala akong pangako na hindi ko natupad, except yang Edsa,” he said.

Really? The accuracy of his claim should be relatively easy to check. When he got elected, his campaign promises were integrated into the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which has accompanying Results Matrices. Moreover, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) keeps track, and posts annually, the government’s accomplishments versus targets. Look at the PSA website, Reader, click Statistics and then click on StatDev.

Unfortunately, what we see there covers only 2017, with some data available for the first quarter of 2018. So it is not current at all. But such as it is, the first table shows the summary of StatDev indicators by sector and likelihood of achieving the target. This shows that of 257 indicators monitored, 111 have a high likelihood, 117 have a low likelihood, and 29 have a 50-50 chance.  So no stars for the President.

But I doubt whether President Duterte meant the targets in the PDP or the indicators in the StatDev when he spoke on the senatorial campaign trail last week. So let’s look at the promises he made during his presidential campaign. That, too, is relatively easy. Google to the rescue.

It turns out, Reader, that he made a lot of promises. This column cannot enumerate all. Nor does it agree with all of them. But here’s a partial list. Let’s start with the promises he has kept:

  1. Release Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from incarceration
  1. Bury former president Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani
  1. Continue and expand the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (4Ps)
  1. Exempt from income taxes those earning monthly incomes of P20,000 and below
  1. Provide funds for the support of family planning
  1. Provide free healthcare for senior citizens and the poor (Universal Health Care Act)
  1. Scholarships in tertiary education, which he has converted into free tuition for all

Then there are the promises which he has partially kept:

  1. Increase police salaries to P75,000-P100,000 within three years
  1. Push for a better agricultural development strategy (he just signed the Rice Tariffication Act, but more needs to be done)
  1. Lower the cost of food (rice, anyway, through the Rice Tariffication Act)
  1. Peace talks with the CPP, NPA, MILF
  1. “Build, build, build”
  1. Regulate or disallow mining

But there are promises that have not been kept, aside from the traffic problem:

  1. Within three to six months, get rid of corruption (in government), drugs and criminality
  1. Federalism, because “nothing short of a federal structure would give Mindanao peace” (the PDP 2017-2022 makes no mention of federalism as a solution to anything)
  1. Stop contractualization
  1. Lift bank secrecy laws
  1. Double the salary of teachers
  1. Build adequate classrooms and double the shifts
  1. Teach values and Filipino pride
  1. Establish a bank for OFW remittances
  1. No kin, no friends—Mr. Duterte announced that his administration will not tolerate this (even if the friends helped in his campaign)

Reader, feel free to amend my classification. In any case, it appears President Duterte has (again) been inaccurate. My only consolation: He is no match for US President Trump’s record, as reported by the Washington Post—more than 8,000 false or misleading claims in two years. I clutch at straws.