PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte said the government’s greater capacity for collecting revenue has helped him fulfill most of his campaign promises, including free state university tuition, universal health care and higher salaries for soldiers and police, with schoolteachers next in line.
He said tax reform, known by its acronym TRAIN, had to be in place to fund some of his programs.
“Alam mo, ang TRAIN, nangako ako sa inyo. Wala akong pangako na hindi ko natupad except ‘yang EDSA [traffic congestion]. Nangako ako na free tuition, nandiyan na ang batas, (TRAIN was necessary because I made promises. There are no promises that I have not fulfilled except fixing congestion on EDSA. I promised free tuition, and the law is in place),” Mr. Duterte said in a speech at a campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Laguna on Saturday.
Mr. Duterte also told his audience he signed the Universal Health Care Act, which will automatically enroll all citizens into the National Health Insurance Program.
“Nangako ako na free universal health care, pirmado ko na ang batas. (I also promised free universal health care, and the law has been signed),” he said.
Mr. Duterte added that he continued the previous administration’s flagship poverty alleviation program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
He further said that higher salaries for schoolteachers may be his next priority.
“Na-deliver ko lahat. Sweldo ng mga maestra. Sabi ko maghintay, (I’ve delivered on all that. About salaries for schoolteachers — just wait),” he said.
He also clarified that the infrastructure program, known as “Build Build Build,” was not a campaign promise but a program he pursued after winning the election.
“Iyong Build Build Build ko? Hindi ako nangako niyan. Hindi niyo narinig sa bunganga ko ‘yan. Pagkatapos na lang nung sigurado nang manalo ako kasi malaking pera. Iyong akin, simple lang. Sabi ko, infrastructure, ‘yung eskwelahan… Pantawid, Universal. (Build Build Build was not a campaign promise. You never heard me say it on campaign. I think it came afterwards when I was sure of winning because it involved a lot of money. I wanted to focus on fundamentals like infrastructure, education… Pantawid, Universal Health Care).”
In a statement, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Sunday said that “apart from combatting illegal drugs, criminality and corruption were also addressed.”
Mr. Duterte said in his speech, according to the PCOO, that “he terminated several officials, even those who were close to him, after they were proven to have committed wrongdoing.”
Asked for comment, University of Santo Tomas Political Science Department chairperson Dennis C. Coronacion said in a phone message: “He forgot to mention his other unfulfilled campaign promises such as ending the practice of endo, protesting our West Philippine Sea claim, and ensuring even economic development through federalism.”
Also on Saturday, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said: “The economic horizon appears to be bright per our economic managers. The economic measures placed by them have curbed inflation and prices in the market have gone down.”
“While detractors of this administration consistently deliberate on how to (sling mud on) the President’s achievements, we remain focused on how to improve the lives of our countrymen through projects that will bring about genuine change for the nation. Expectedly, the opposition, especially those who wielded power prior to the present ones, who either by incompetence or sheer negligence failed to initiate any major infrastructure, has denigrated the initiatives of (the president) to establish the foundation for the country’s development and growth,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin