House leader lauds Duterte’s last SONA


House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez of Leyte’s First District said Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday is but a “capsule” of what he has achieved.

“Before he was elected President in 2016, all these were just dreams that seemed elusive and unattainable in our generation,” he said in a statement.

Among Duterte’s “sterling accomplishments” were free college education, healthcare coverage for all Filipinos, free irrigation, an autonomous government for the Bangsamoro, and peaceful communities with lower crime rate nationwide.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the President did a “great job” in bringing about meaningful change through his no-nonsense policies, particularly in the area of peace and order as seen in his campaign against illegal drugs.

“We were on the way to a better future when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and threw a monkey wrench into some of the administration’s economic achievements, something that other nations have also experienced. Despite this, we cannot discount the fact that the Duterte administration did all that it could to safeguard the public, cushioning them from the impact of this health crisis through various measures,” Barzaga said in a statement.

Economic gains

Albay Representative Joey Salceda said he was glad that President Duterte reiterated the historic legacies of his administration in socio-economic development.

“He is the President to have made college tuition in state colleges free. His administration institutionalized the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. His government doubled infrastructure spending, and launched more than 20,000 infrastructure projects with 6.5 million jobs scattered across the country. His government instituted universal health care – the foundation for equitable medical care for all Filipinos,” Salceda said in another statement.

Salceda highlighted that the administration’s comprehensive tax reform program is hailed across the globe as a model for public resource management and public investment.

He said average revenue-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rates under President Duterte, at 15.3 percent of GDP, are at their highest since the 1997 tax reform under former president Fidel V. Ramos.

“In fact, the Duterte tax reform, which I am honored to have authored and shepherded in Congress, is taught as a module in some of the world’s best universities,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Salceda said average growth rates under Duterte’s presidency were higher than any other President since 1986 while the average inflation rates under his rule are lower than any other presidency even after the pandemic ensued.

“Amidst the chaos and disruption of the Covid-19, it is important to remember that under normal times, President Duterte’s socioeconomic policies have worked to keep us growing, and has helped spread newly created wealth and its benefits to more Filipinos, through an aggressive public investment plan. Indeed, President Duterte’s resolve was the iron fist inside the boxing gloves of the economic team,” Salceda said.

He expressed gratitude to President Duterte for setting the country’s economic policy direction for this final year, highlighting the importance of countryside development in peace and order, governance reforms, and economic bills to relax restrictions on foreign investments, among others.

“Moving forward, completing herd immunity as early as possible this year, and properly spending the P45 billion buffer we set aside for 2022, will be of the highest importance in economic recovery,” he said. “The passage of the amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act will also be crucial to creating new jobs and opening new businesses.”

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