By Corina Oliquina | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte marked the halfway mark of his presidency last June 30.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said “the Filipino people can expect the same number of significant achievements, if not more, in the remainder of the President’s term.

Even as the majority of the Filipinos are in awe of PRRD’s accomplishments, the best is still to come.”

“The President’s record as the Philippines’ chief executive speaks for itself,” Panelo added.

Last June 29, Panelo listed at length Duterte’s “countless and incomparable feats” including the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, rehabilitation of drug users and the “dismantling of the illegal drug industry.”

In a report by Rappler and The Philippine Star, Duterte’s achievements, according to the Palace can be counted in the economy, passage of laws and foreign policy, with the Philippines becoming “one of the strongest economies and growth leaders in the region” through infrastructure under its Build Build Build Program. Panelo noted that under Duterte’s political will, the Philippines “earned the highest credit rating in our economic history with a BBB+ upgrade from global debt watcher Standard and Poor’s.”

He added that the President also “intensified the government’s revenue collections to new record highs,” collecting around C6 billion from Philippines Airlines for overdue navigational fees and the P40 billion landmark settlement with Mighty Corp. over unpaid excise taxes.

In terms of foreign policy, Malacañang claimed Duterte pursued an independent foreign policy which saw the historic return of Balangiga bells from the United States, the return shipment of trash back to Canada and the Philippines’ improved ties with Russia and China.

“The Chief Executive has demonstrated altruism as the nation’s father by visiting our troops regularly to boost their morale, attending the wakes of our slain soldiers, policemen and other law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty and taking care of their grieving families,” Panelo told The Philippine Star, noting Duterte also gave the public free space to air their grievances without filing any cases.

Despite this, the Duterte administration has been hit with one of its worst crisis according to Rappler, citing the news of a Philippine boat sinking and being abandoned by a Chinese vessel in the contested West Philippine Sea last June 12, Independence Day, with Duterte dismissing the incident and the near-drowning of 22 Filipino fishermen as a “maritime accident.”

On laws passed, the Palace cited the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, Universal Health Care Act, Magna Carta for the Poor, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Bangsamoro Organic Law, and free irrigation to farmers as well as free internet access in public places among its achievements.

“With unprecedented political will, genuine empathy, as well as relentless resolve to uplift the general welfare of the people, he signed long-pending bills into law, issued executive measures like free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation to farmers, free internet access in public places,” Panelo said, noting the Duterte administration also paved the way for the institutionalization of feeding programs for public school students, universal health care program, free medicine and financial support to indigent patients, mandatory PhilHealth coverage for persons with disabilities (PWDs), huge and unparalleled subsidies in favor of government hospitals as well as the increase of SSS pensions for senior citizens.

9 out of 10
In another report by The Philippine Star, Panelo in a radio interview on June 29 claimed, “no other president has matched Duterte’s gains during the first half of his term,” claiming the President deserves a near perfect nine out of 10 in his first three years for his stance on the South China Sea row and the bloody war on drugs, among others.

“In a scale of 10, it should be nine,” Panelo said.

“Didn’t you see the list of his accomplishments? No other president was able to do that by their admission,” he added, noting Duterte has been fulfilling his campaign promises which enabled him to win by landslide in 2016 including firing officials to “destroy the culture of corruption in the country.”

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