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ROUGH CUTS | What could be Duterte’s legacy?




Vic N. Sumalinog

WE could not imagine the level of success that the Duterte administration could have achieved had it not have the misfortunes of getting hit by a series of disasters, the most devastating of which is the deadly corona virus disease 2019 pandemic.

Yes, we have such disasters as strong earthquakes in Mindanao that came one after the other. We have a volcanic eruption that virtually buried some areas in Batangas and crippled the province’s economy.

In fact the eruption came in just a little more than two months after the devastating strong temblors in most of Mindanao.

Then came the series of strong typhoons with tremendous rains that caused the flooding of some places in Metro Manila and the Cagayan Valley provinces. The floods not only submerged the houses and other centers housing economic activities, the waters also destroyed billion pesos worth of agricultural crops.
Above all these, the CoViD 19 pandemic still rages on forcing the country’s economy to almost a standstill. And barely two months into 2021, another destructive typhoon battered a substantial area in Mindanao traversing the eastern and Central Visayas and parts of Southern Luzon.

The typhoon named “Auring”, the first to hit the country this year, is likely to leave in its wake another billion of pesos loss in the national economy. In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte was forced to leave his many works in Malacanang just to visit the affected areas in Mindanao, specifically Surigao del Sur, which is also flooded heavily.

He has to survey the extent of the devastation and met the leaders of the areas if only to assure them and their people that the national government is out to help them in their predicament. Yes, the President has to reckon with all of these tragedies that befall his administration. But despite all the disasters, his “build, build, build” program remained on track. But before these, the country’s economic growth was second fastest in Asia.

Despite all attempts of the opposition to bring the administration down by painting it a totally different picture in the national and international audiences, the Duterte administration and its performance still sit well with the people.

And this was proven by all surveys conducted in all the years that the studies were conducted. And even in the administration’s response to the pandemic that has brought down to their knees even the world’s strongest economies, and by the incessant discrediting by the administration critics, the Duterte administration is seen globally to be performing well.

Now, it’s no secret that the Duterte regime is saddled by so many hindrances as consequence of the various kinds of calamities that befall the country and the world. The cataclysms’ drain on our country’s coffer, and the necessary restrictions to open in fall the economic activities, without doubt, are now forming mountains of a hurdle for the Duterte administration in attaining its desired goals by the end of its term in 2022, only a year hence.

Yes. If all these tragedies did not happen in the country how many large infrastructure projects would have been accomplished? In fact, even in this era of deprivation, the administration still manages to finish projects that virtually make almost every province in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao connected by land and the entire country made smaller because of accessibility in terms of roads and bridges and in communications as well.

How much more could have been done in terms of infrastructure projects and other social programs if the government resources were not shifted to addressing the needs of rehabilitation and assistance as well as in preventing the spread of the pandemic and assisting those millions of people rendered jobless due to forced shutdowns of economic activities?

One more year and the current administration will be exiting. And it seems there is no let-up in the series of deadly and destructive calamities in the country. Yet, in all these, the President still manages to be on top with the support of his able Cabinet members.

Apparently, Duterte is not physically and emotionally affected by the barrage of criticisms that are heaped on him and his administration. Of course, we personally are not always in accord with all the decisions he had made in the past but certainly, where we have known that such decision of his had led to the well-being of most Filipinos, we feel proud because the decisions that we once doubted were, after all, right and beneficial.

Today when many would have been thinking that the administration is already lame duck and the one on top could be some kind of a “wornout,” it does not appear so insofar as the President is concerned. His decisions still carry a weight of a punch that cannot be regarded by the opposition and critics as less effective.

So it is our take that the Duterte influence will still be a force to reckon with in determining the economic condition of the country well into the last days of his Malacanang stint, and even in determining who would come in after him.

And we have no reason to doubt that the present structural development in the country will redeem him from whatever shortfalls in the economy. After all, the Philippines is much better off compared to other countries in the world that are similarly situated economically.
A golden era in infrastructure and a survivor in the global economic downturn? That may well be the Duterte legacy.

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