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Salamat, President Duterte!


The campaign period for the 2022 elections has started for national candidates. In about three months, we will have voted a new President and other leaders of the country. In four months’ time, President Rodrigo Duterte will end his term.


Many predict that President Duterte will defy the so-called lame duck curse as he continues to enjoy the trust and approval of majority of Filipinos.


In the last survey result released by Pulse Asia (conducted between Dec. 1-6, 2021), it showed that 72 percent of Filipinos approved of President Duterte’s performance.


As someone who had the chance to personally witness the President at work, I have no doubt that it is his sincerity to serve the people and the country that has endeared him to many Filipinos.


In 2016, when Typhoon Nina struck communities in the country amid the Christmas season, President Duterte inspected affected provinces. I was with then Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar when the President visited Catanduanes and Camarines Sur. He skipped the gift-giving ceremonies and went straight to giving orders to his men. For the DPWH, we only had 48 hours to ensure that roads were passable and cleared.


The following year, still during Christmas time, Typhoon Urduja devastated the province of Biliran. President Duterte was first on the ground and, again, proceeded straight to directing his men to immediately carry out rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.


I remember, when he saw the damage of Caray-Caray Bridge, he instructed Sec. Mark to ensure that the bridge would be passable in a month’s time. I thought the timeline was impossible because of the extent of the damage. But when leaders are serious with their duty, they get things done, now and fast—that’s one of the great things I learned from President Duterte.


Even in the most dangerous situations, he was there. During the Marawi siege, he was on the ground and armed with rifle when Philippine troops recaptured the Islamic center—the main mosque where the gunmen had taken cover with their hostages. He went to the main battle area against the advice of his own men and proceeded to communities heavily damaged in the fighting.


I consider myself fortunate not only because I was able to witness the President in action several times, but more so because I was part of one of the biggest programs of his administration—the Build, Build, Build—whose vision to provide a good network infrastructure and connect the islands in the country is gradually coming into fruition. Between 2016 and 2021, a total of 29,264 kilometer of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood control projects, 214 airport projects, 451 commercial and social tourism projects, 222 evacuation centers, 89 TIKAS projects, 150,149 classrooms and 653 COVID-19 facilities have been completed.


From the start, the President’s instructions were clear: Finish as many “Build, Build, Build” projects as possible in the soonest possible time. Whoever gets the credit is none of our business.


In fact, when he learned that some of the slippages in the delivery of infrastructure projects were due to the delay in the release of permits, the President pushed for the enactment of RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.


The reforms instituted during his time propelled the Philippines to jump 29 notches in The World Bank – Doing Business Report, from 124th in 2019 to 95 in 2020.


Of course, it is impossible for any President to solve all its country’s woes in six years. But what President Duterte has accomplished so far has already benefitted many Filipinos. He knew that in every meter of road, bridge, and rail we built, we open opportunities to thousands of Filipinos who at one point didn’t have access to hospitals, schools, and work.


The ‘Build, Build, Build’ is just one of the many programs he has accomplished towards his vision of a much safer Philippines—one that accords the same opportunities to all Filipinos, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or gender.


If his consistently high approval ratings are any indication, President Duterte has satisfactorily served the Filipino people.

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