THE TAX reform program as recently passed by Congress, the national budget next year, and the controversial anti-drug campaign are among the highlights of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s first full year of 2017, according to a year-end report released Tuesday, Dec. 26, by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

“This year-end report highlights the key accomplishments of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration to give the Filipino people a safe, secure, and comfortable environment through his key platforms of providing law and order, lasting peace, and prosperity for all,” the report said, adding:

“The Duterte administration is committed to eliminate illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption in government. It is, likewise, serious in addressing poverty and inequality across the archipelago.”

In terms of the drug war, the report said, citing the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drug Secretariat and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Special Projects, that,” as of January to September 2017, there have been 16,103 drug dependents enrolled at the Department of Health drug rehabilitation program, (and) 2,236 of them have already completed the program.”

Also, “14,046 drug surrenderers have received livelihood and skills training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA),” the Palace report also noted, in contrast to Mr. Duterte’s remarks against rehabilitation of drug users.

Regarding peace and order, the report cited data by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that there has been an 8.44% decrease in total crime volume from 493,912 in January to October 2016 to 452,204 in the same 10-month period the following year. Decrease in robbery incidents was 23.61%, from 18,259 in January to October 2016 to 13,948 in January to October 2017, the report said.

There was considerable focus in the report on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), amid the limelight of the Philippines’ hosting the 31st ASEAN Summit this year and also in the context of the country’s maritime issues with China.

“This is a milestone for the Department of Finance (DoF), which has worked hard for the bill to come into fruition. This Act seeks to make the country’s tax system simpler, fairer and more efficient,” the report said.

“The country’s preparedness is attributed to its substantial financing opportunities, the government’s tax reform program, rising revenue collections, and the declining debt ratio.” — Arjay L. Balinbin