How did Duterte’s first year of building a legacy go?

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Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, popularly known as PRRD after the initials of
his name, began his term as the sixteenth President of the Republic of the Philippines on June
30, 2016, the day of his inauguration. Long-suffering from chronic corruption and high crime
rates, the population was intrigued by Duterte when he began pursuing convicted criminals and
drug dealers. Thus, he gained the moniker “the Punisher.” However, several people opposed
his strategies. However, Duterte stood for what he believed and stated that he had seen how
corruption had bled government offices and how illegal drugs had harmed the lives and
relationships of people and their loved ones. Based on his background as a lawyer and former
prosecutor, he reassured the public that he understood the extent of his authority.

After accusing the bishops of the Catholic Church of self-enrichment in the days
preceding his inauguration, Duterte’s first year in office has been chaotic and controversial.
Moreover, he claimed that the mainstream media was biased against him and the message he
was promoting. During one of his talks, he falsely accused a reporter of prejudice for asking
about his health, claiming that the reporter was biased. He has not granted interviews to the
media, and he has prohibited independent news outlets from covering his inauguration. The
nation’s most influential newspapers then penned a joint editorial claiming that President
Duterte and the media have “become caustic and antagonistic.”

Amid the uproar, Duterte intensified his efforts to establish a better administration by
staffing his cabinet with progressives and accomplished bureaucrats. It is well known that the
leader of his national police force, who goes by the name “Bato” or “stone,” adopted a firm
stance toward criminals. Before assuming office, the President had initiated peace negotiations
with communist rebels in the region. Duterte exhibited his willingness to serve the welfare and
advancement of the country by surrounding himself with a competent economic team
comprised mostly of “seasoned technocrats” who could build upon Aquino’s achievements.
Aquino is mainly credited for successfully stabilizing the economy when most of the region
was experiencing a collapse.

During his first year in office, his economic staff’s efforts resulted in several successful
economic projects. He commemorated the occasion by instituting significant changes to the
Philippines’ economic and financial landscape. Students attending public universities are no
longer compelled to pay tuition, one of Duterte’s most significant achievements. As a direct
and immediate result of the tax reform plan, it was anticipated that working-class Filipinos
would retain more cash.

An essential priority of Dutertenomics is modernizing the nation’s aging and poorly
designed infrastructure. It was supported by a plan to alter taxes to enhance funding for
constructing new motorways, bridges, ports, train lines, and airports. This infrastructure
program was expected to raise its contribution to the GDP from the predicted 5.4% this year to
7.4% the following year. This infrastructure program was estimated to be worth $8 trillion, and
it was predicted that this growth would result. “Build Build Build” was the initiative’s moniker.
The program aimed to improve business conditions, increase the total number of available
employment, and increase the average household income. As a direct result of the President’s
proposal of 75 new construction projects under the “build build build” strategy, two million
new jobs would be created annually. The Build Build Build initiative features an online
platform that offers high-impact projects with the objectives of boosting the country’s economic
capacity, the number of available employment, and the available income, as well as enhancing
the investment climate to achieve sustainable and equitable growth. As reported by the World
Bank, as a result of the efforts of the Duterte administration for the Philippine economy, the
country ranks as having the tenth fastest growth rate in the world. This extraordinary rise was
attributable to the government’s loose monetary policy, which has enhanced both the pace of
capital formation and the volume of remittances. According to the World Bank’s “Global
Economic Prospects” report, the annual growth rate was anticipated to be 6.9% in both 2017
and 2018.

In addition to the various rays of light he had offered his nation’s citizens, there was
anticipation that the volatile Muslim south would finally experience peace and security under
his rule. This hope was founded on the fact that he conducted peace discussions with numerous
armed factions and organizations. By conversing with the dreaded Abu Sayyaf, he began his
legacy of bringing peace and development to Mindanao, a region regarded as a nursery of
turmoil. This was the first bold action taken by his Mindanaoan people, who had suffered
greatly at the hands of several armed groups in the region. This event provided a springboard
for the subsequent achievements he would attain. The victim, Marites Flor, had been held
captive for nine months before her release, which was directly attributable to his intervention.
Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian national kidnapped by the same militant outfit for nearly a
year, expressed his thanks to PRRD upon his rescue on September 17, 2016, somewhere in
Patikul, Sulu. In addition, Duterte has helped secure his release in numerous more ways.
Another achievement Duterte made after not even a year in office was following a
maritime convention adopted by the United Nations in 1982. The Philippines were victorious
in a ground-breaking arbitration case before a tribunal in The Hague. The lawsuit invalidated
China’s extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea. This triumph happened after
President Duterte had been in office for more than a month as President of the Philippines.
Duterte decided not to seek immediate compliance with the ruling China handed down to
thaw the frosty relations that his country currently has with China. He assuaged people’s
concerns by assuring them that he would bring it up with Beijing at some point in the future.
Duterte claimed that going to war with China, which has already stated that the judgment is a
farce, would place the Philippines in a position where they would surely come out on the losing
end of the conflict. China has already stated that the verdict is a joke.

Furthermore, his first year in power marked the beginning of his famed war on drugs.
Nearly 5,000 suspects have been killed, including 3,151 in documented gun battles with police
and 1,847 in drug-related attacks, predominantly by masked motorcycle-riding gunmen. The
executions have been received with widespread international condemnation and Human
Rights Watch has branded the first year of Duterte’s presidency as “a tragedy for human rights.”
Despite this, Duterte’s popularity was more than when he was first elected. After his victory,
his approval rating increased to 75 percent and 80 percent, below 40 percent when he started

Despite his criticism during his first year in office, his government improved the
country’s economic condition and made progress in the campaign against selling illegal drugs

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