Reflecting on the first 100 days of President Duterte

Edited image courtesy of Flickr user duncan c.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte became the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines on 30 June 2016 following an overwhelming election victory. In his inaugural address, President Duterte asked for a level of governance consistent with the mandate of the Office of the President in fighting criminality, illegal drugs and corruption.

President Duterte, who governs more than 100 million people, takes seriously his enormous responsibility to protect the Filipino people and future generations. His support from the Filipino people transcends region, age and social class.

The President is a man of action and demands the highest quality of service from the Philippine government. In his first 100 days, we’ve seen the President fulfilling his campaign pledge with an unmatched sense of urgency and the political will to get things done.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) estimates that illegal drugs are afflicting 26.93% of villages across the country and an astonishing 99.26% of districts in the National Capital Region alone. Crime stemming from use of illegal drugs has resulted in more than half of the Philippines’ adults living in fear of burglary, drug addicts and unsafe streets.

President Duterte has responded with a strong resolve to make the Philippines drug-free. His government is now addressing the challenge of providing the necessary rehabilitation centres. During the President’s campaign against illegal drugs, 715,699 drug users and peddlers have surrendered to authorities. As of 20 September 2016, 18,814 operations conducted by the Philippine police have resulted in 18,064 arrests and the deaths of 1,167 people. The Philippine police are strictly guided by operational protocols which prevents the excessive use of force.

There has already been a huge dip in the Philippines’ crime rate over the past few months, with the Philippine National Police reporting a downward trend in criminal activity.

There have also been major breakthroughs in peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front. The two successfully concluded their second round of talks in Oslo, Norway continuing a breakthrough in peace talks and moving closer to a bilateral ceasefire agreement. Meanwhile, the implementing Panels for the Bangsamoro Peace Agreement of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was launched just six weeks into the new Administration. There’s a positive and hopeful atmosphere given the President’s determination to hasten the peace process and bring an end to those conflicts.

President Duterte has also recognised terrorism as a major threat to security in the country and the region, and expressed readiness to provide the necessary resources to our government agencies in countering terrorism.

The Philippine economic team, guided by the President’s 10 point socio-economic agenda, is continuing with the macroeconomic policies already in place while increasing infrastructure spending, promoting regional and rural development, and investing heavily in human capital development. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank maintain favourable outlooks for the Philippine economy and prospects for continued growth are strong.

An independent, prosperous and peaceful Philippines is in the interest of both the Asia–Pacific and the world. Strengthening our capabilities allows us to more sufficiently play our role in contributing to regional peace and security.

We’ve always sought friendly relations with our neighbouring countries and partners on the basis of mutual respect. We stand by our obligations under international treaties and executive agreements including our Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, and our strategic partnerships with Japan and Vietnam and our membership in ASEAN. At the same time, we seek to revitalise our relations with China who we’ve always recognised as a long-standing friend; we welcome the mutual desire to begin the process of improving our overall bilateral relations.

On the South China Sea, we consider the award of the Arbitral Tribunal as final and binding on all parties. Our resolve to defend our national interests and uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity is stronger than ever.

We remain fully committed to our Comprehensive Partnership with Australia and continue to work on the practical areas of cooperation. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Australia. Our relations have gone from strength to strength in political–security relations, economic and development cooperation, and people-to-people links. President Duterte’s administration opens new opportunities for cooperation based on our shared heritage, shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and adherence to the rule of law, and shared aspirations of peace, progress and prosperity.

Those who’ve had the opportunity to interact directly with the Philippine President met a man whose love for the Philippines and the Filipino people has no bounds. His resolve in uplifting the lives of the Filipino people and providing a lasting peace for our people has been consistent and clear.

The Philippines will benefit from the support of the international community in recognising the ills in Philippine society that we seek to urgently address and to support our ambition for a secure and prosperous Philippines.