By Camille A. Aguinaldo
Senators on Monday assessed the second year of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, acknowledging the gains achieved in his fight against criminality but also flagging the economic policies which remained lacking.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III gave the President a grade of A, citing the efforts made in the country’s peace and order situation.
“I will give him an A for effort and sincerity in fighting illegal drugs and criminality. His weakest point is not being in good terms with the media,” he said in a text message to reporters.
Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito also noted the improvement of the Duterte administration’s policies on illegal drugs. But he said the administration needed to fast-track its infrastructure programs.
“I would want to focus and monitor and push the infrastructure development which is essential to genuine economic growth under the Duterte administration,” he said.
However, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said Mr. Duterte’s top advisers needed to reassess their strategies not only on their fight against crime and corruption but also in economic issues as well.
“After two years, it may be wise and prudent for his top advisers to go back to the drawing board and reassess what they did wrong and what they are doing right, not only in the fight against crime and corruption, which is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration’s deliverables, but in the economic sector as well,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Lacson pointed out that the administration’s strategy in the peace and order situation remained “short on prevention” and focused on crime suppression. He said prevention should be prioritized while crimes that cannot be prevented should be supressed “with solid solution thorugh efficient investigative work and techniques.”
The senator stressed that the tax reform law needed to be revisited and amendment. He also asked the President to stand up against the personal interests of the members of Congress, especially in the enforcement of the outlaw of the pork barrel fund.
“On the revenue side, the TRAIN law needs to be revisited and amended, and the President, with all his strong influence over Congress, must put his foot down on vested interests of some members of both houses,” he said.
“On the expenditure side, a.k.a. the General Appropriations Act, the same influence is suggested to minimize wastage of the government’s hard-earned resources by strictly adhering to the existing jurisprudence outlawing pork barrel, which is still evident among selected members of Congress, a few of whom enjoyed as high as nine-figure insertions during the last two budget years under the Duterte administration,” he added.