President Rodrigo Duterte said he wished for a peaceful and progressive Philippines this new year as he sat down for one-on-one interviews for several media organizations this week.
Six months after assuming the presidency, President Duterte discussed during the interviews wide range of issues such as his administration’s accomplishments in the past few months and the prospects of the coming year.
“I just want my country peaceful and developing. Wala na akong ibang ambisyon sa buhay ko,” the President said in an interview with CNN Philippines in Malacanan on Thursday when asked about his New Year wish.
In the past six months, the President said there many accomplishments under his watch.
For instance, the ongoing campaign of illegal narcotics, which he said resulted in decline in incidence of crimes like robbery and rape noting these are “visual proofs” of good effects of the administration’s war on drugs.
He has also spoken about his health, his Cabinet, his foreign policy, peace talks and challenges that confront the country.
Governtment priority legislations
As to the legislations that he supports, the President said he is awaiting for the proposal that prolong the duration of maternity leave from 60 to 100 days. Women, he said, need longer period to stay at home after birth to care for their newborn.
The President also promised to approve a bill that puts an end to end of contract (endo) for Filipino workers.
In a separate interview with ANC, the President mentioned the impasse in the Social Security System (SSS).
“Itong sa SSS. There’s a debate going on now here. It’s Cabinet meeting, ayaw nila talaga itong ano because it will go bankrupt, itong SSS,” he said.
He said the government has to guarantee that SSS will remain solvent at all times.
He, meanwhile, said the issue will still be thoroughly studied again once he returns to work in January.
Tackling illegal drugs
There are around four million drug addicts in the country by yearend, the President said and this gives too much burden on the government.
But the aggressive campaign against illegal drugs has started to yield results, particularly with the drop in crime rate in the country.
“Tingnan mo yung crime rate noon. Tingnan mo before I really inaugurated there. Tingnan mo yung crime rate at tingnan mo ngayon,” he told CNN Philippines. “So what is my purpose? My purpose is really to give order.”
He also renewed his announcement about the availability of a P1 billion fund intended for drug addicts undergoing rehab.
There is another P1 billion for poor people with prescriptions from doctors who cannot afford to buy medicines, he added.
The President also issued a warning about the connection between illegal drugs and terrorism especially after a raid in Mindanao showed radical islamist operating illegal narcotics laboratory.
“Iyong nakuha naming kampo, there was this big laboratory. May laboratory talaga sa droga and it was a camp. That’s why I ordered a full-scale operation there because we cannot keep on losing territories there,” the President told GMA News TV in a separate interview.
In another interview with TV 5 network, the President renewed his vow to fight corruption in government. He said he will not allow the members of his Cabinet to engage in it and even the immediate members of his family.
“I made just about four fundamental promises. One is that there will be no corruption. And I will assure you, there will be no corruption,” he said during a one-on-one with TV5. “As a matter of fact, on the other sa kanina, I said pag may anak ako o asawa ko na na-involve sa corruption sa gobyerno, I will resign.”
He also promised to combat red tape in the bureaucracy like what he did in Davao City when he was city mayor.
The President also want to put an end to abuses in key services like transport sector, he said in another interview with Rappler. To discipline erring drivers, he said he will require drivers to put their IDs inside their vehicles for proper identification of their passengers.
If there is an abuse or anomaly, the President advised the public to report to the police to apprehend violators.
The President also expressed his optimism about the economy in the coming year. His aggressive campaign against illegal drugs and crime are boosters to investors, he said, as these creates an ambience of order and security.
Also adding to his confidence is the entry of China or Chinese investors into the country following his visit to Beijing this year, he told GMA News TV.
“Yes, upbeat ako sa economy kasi papasok na ang China. Kasi noon limitado tayo eh. It’s just that that we are limited to a very by hours,” he said.
“Limitado tayo sa foreign affair. Kailan pa ba tayo pinansin ng China? It was not until after my trip to China to talk to them,” he added.
A lot of foreign businesses are coming in and the President said that in two or three years, the country will be better. South Koreans, Japanese, and even Europeans are investing aside from the Chinese, he said.
The President also discussed the status of peso.
“The dollar goes very, very strong because they’re recovering and only because Trump is there. But when Trump becomes the president, he starts to do things, you can be sure that again, the peso will rise again,” he told Rappler.
Infrastructure development, traffic congestion problem
The President admitted the severity of the traffic congestion problem especially in Metro Manila, and this could not be solved if the government lacks the fund to build infrastructure.
“It could be a railway, it could be a new highway there somewhere, elevated or underground,” he said in an interview with PTV 4.
Regarding EDSA, the government might resort to draconian measures such as limiting the entry of so many vehicles and improving the mobility of the LRT and MRT.
He hinted on regulating the issuance of licenses and permits in vehicle production to curb traffic congestion.
But he said he is putting his hope on China, which promised help in developing the country’s infrastructure when he visited Beijing last year.
The President also mentioned a private sector initiative aimed at tackling the drug problem.
The construction of a 10,000-person drug rehab facility in Nueva Ecija, built through funding from a Chinese philanthropist, would be a great help, he said.###PND