Tracking Duterte’s Pledges
HOW TO measure the first year of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as president? One way is to review his campaign promises and check how well he has delivered on the commitments he made to the electorate.
CMFR cheers the Philippine Daily Inquirer, PhilStar.com, Rappler and GMA-7’s 24 Oras and ABS-CBN 2’s TV Patrol for their efforts to track Duterte’s progress in fulfilling the pledges he made with such bravado.
The Inquirer started a series of articles on June 25 to review the president’s first year. The reports are also available online in a dedicated website “The Duterte Administration Year in Review” which will run until July 24.
One section, “DU30’s 30 Promises” examines 14 themes, among them, drugs, peace and order, traffic, and corruption. The tracker shows when he made the promise; the deadline he set; a backgrounder on the topic, and the pronouncements on how he intend to address the issue—presenting the public with a quick and objective evaluation tool.
PhilStar.com’s “Duterte’s First 12 Months: A Series” began publishing on July 4. “A year of hits, misses and postponed promises” focused on 12 key priorities set by Duterte during the campaign, citing the president’s exact words, with date and location, and describing the status of the pledge as “ongoing,” “uncertain,” “paused,” or “pivoted.” Brief backgrounders provided more detail on the status so far. Unfortunately, the series did not find space in the Star’s print edition.
Rappler chose to focus separately on issues. “Ending contractualization needs 2 urgent actions from Duterte” tracked government actions to end “endo” by looking into actions of the Department of Labor and Employment, as well as the status of the bills filed in the Congress for this purpose—seven in the Senate and 24 in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers and concerned government agencies have urged the president to certify as urgent the bills that seek to end contractualization and to sign the executive order that will “end hiring through a middleman.”
“Duterte’s coco levy promise: It’s time to ‘force the issue with Congress,’” meanwhile, focused on the president’s campaign promise to return to farmers the multibillion-peso fund collected from 1971 to 1983 which was meant to develop the coconut industry. The report provided a backgrounder on the issue and tracked the government’s progress in returning the money to the farmer beneficiaries. The report noted a number of difficulties in the process, which include the lack of a reliable list of beneficiaries, Duterte’s firing of officials who were on top of the issue, and differences in opinions and interests of parties involved.
A series of reports in 24 Oras’ “PDU30: Ang Unang Taon” special began airing on June 26, tackling pertinent issues which President Duterte vowed to address. Topics include the country’s drug issue (“Bilang ng mga sangkot sa droga, natukoy kasabay ng pag-igting ng kampanya ng gobyerno”), crime (“Bilang ng krimen sa bansa, bumaba ng 10% sa unang 11 buwan ni Pangulong Duterte”), labor issues (“Bigo ang unang taon ng pangulo dahil sa patuloy pa rin ang kontraktwalisasyon”) and transportation (“Pagsasaayos ng MRT at proyektong para mass transit, solusyon sa matinding traffic”), among others. The reports zeroed in on the actions taken by the government and showed government data to illustrate the progress made so far. The reports also featured experts and members of the affected sectors who shared their views on the government’s action on the issues.
TV Patrol also started to air reports on the week leading to the anniversary, discussing some of the president’s promises such as rice subsidy for the poor, salary increase for soldiers and police, and increase of social security pension (“Alamin: Mga natupad, nakabinbing pangako ni Duterte sa mahihirap, kawani ng gobyerno”) and ending contractualization (“Special Report: Kontraktwalisasyon”). Economic targets such as poverty alleviation, economic growth and increased spending in infrastructure projects were revisited in the report “Mga pangako ng gobyerno, ano ang lagay?”, noting that the government will need to depend on official development assistance or loans from other countries and the additional taxes to fast-track the completion of the plans, something which some analysts and concerned groups criticize.
Media’s review did not give prominence to the all-important China question. Understandably, the special reports did not refer to president’s joke that he would jet-ski to the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, but focused on the warm relations with China, the gains from China’s aid and promise of investments. Only PhilStar.com’s “A year of walking with China,” and Rappler’s “Dutertismo and the West Philippine Sea: Year One” looked into his failure to assert the arbitral ruling that recognized Philippine sovereignty over the disputed waters; while 24 Oras and TV Patrol sought out analysts who highlighted the repercussions of the government’s pivot to China.
One year may be too short to gauge the Duterte government’s overall performance. Nonetheless, it is important for the media to keep watch, to remind the president that the public has ways of keeping track. This press practice may help to stop candidates from presenting themselves as superheroes with answers for all of the country’s ills, cut down on the chutzpah and the braggadocio which constitute so much of what is wrong with Philippine politics.