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A SAFER NEW YEAR A girl shows the safer way to usher the New Year, as her mother sells horns of varied colors, shapes, and sizes at Riverside market in Las Piñas City after President Duterte through an executive order regulated the use of firecrackers.

It was a good year

By Jun Ledesma

We have seen the litany of achievements of Duterte administration. It dwarfed the entire six years of the Aquino regime. It could have done better except that it has to first fix a lot of damages wrought by an inept regime that has likewise institutionalized corruption and abetted crime the most horrific of it all – drug syndicates.

Space or brevity must have limited some significant achievements of the Department of Finance and am referring to the upgrades of credit ratings of the Philippines from investment grade to investment grade and stable. While early on Standard & Poor’s claimed that President Duterte’s war on drugs and alleged extra-judicial killings are factors that account for the static rating by December 2017 it grudgingly acceded that something good is happening in the Philippines under Duterte’s watch.

Finance Sec. Sonny Dominguez and his team deserves the credit. Fitch and Moody’s in their “investment grade and stable” rating in December enunciated that the issues surrounding drugs and EJK have nothing to do with the rosy economy of the country and its image as capital investment destination. The country’s economic performance for one is top in Asia and there is no turning back with the expected massive spending on infrastructures and government services starting 2018 and beyond.

The Duterte government achievements scoreboard makes the moribund opposition drooling. Still on Finance, expect the billionaires who are also the country’s tax dodgers to cough up. TRAIN or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion gives a huge relief to 99 percent of those small taxpayers saving the ar least P50,000.00 in tax cut! but demands and exacts the reasonable taxes from the rich especially the filthy rich.

Last year sampling of Lucio Tan (P6-billion), Mighty Corporation (P40-billion) and the Prieto and Rufinos’ one-mile asset that they are accountable to the government in still unquantifiable amount as yet? There is a subliminal message to be absorbed why candidate Rodrigo R. Duterte refused to accept donations from the rich and famous: just pay your taxes correctly and you’re okay.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs are churning more collections under a continuing reforms.

President Duterte himself did dramatic and radical transformations in the area of Foreign Affairs and security. He was chided and lectured on by self-proclaimed experts in diplomacy and security alliances especially with the generous expletives he is famous for. But as he admitted to the point of being apologetic, he told media men in this year’s Christmas party, “but that is me”.

Duterte’s foray into foreign affairs and diplomacy might be severely lacking in refinements but he put across his message clearly and direct and one cannot quarrel with what he achieved in such a brief moment. He virtually altered the outlook of the western countries on small sovereign nations. He overhauled alliances by an unwritten rule of mutual respect and cognizance of sovereignty. While Aquino made enemies with China which is the world’s second largest economy resulting in unquantifiable losses of opportunities Duterte reversed that with the resumption of trade, financial assistance with cheap money interest, massive infrastructure projects that will come into fruition by 2018. World leaders to include Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, PM Shinzo Abe of Japan and, to the dismay of the so-called Yellowtards, US Pres. Donald Trump who became his virtual phone pal.

The Department of Agriculture under Sec. Manny Pinol, did exemplary well. Productivity is better than expected and could have performed better if not for the natural calamities that the country has to contend with. Maybe the Bureau of Fisheries under it may try something out of the box.

Propose to China to convert that disputed island into a one big marine laboratory. China provides the infrastructures while the Philippines the technical aquatic expertise. Make a 10-mile no-fishing marine haven around the island and guarded by the joint coastguard forces of China, Philippines and Vietnam.

The Philippine Coconut Authority under Cabinet Sec. Jun Evasco is about to embark on a massive replanting program. The Aquino government allocated billions of pesos to fight “kukulisap” infestation but applied the wrong solution. Well, what do we expect from a certain Kiko Pangilinan? The replanting program was a big failure on account of massive graft in high and low places. Replanting as well as new areas had been programmed by PCA.

Finally, we have to give accolade to our Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for combatting internal threats, terrorism and syndicated crime. The AFP and PNP are more prepared and better equipped now than any other time in history. Furthermore, we see a disciplined force in the AFP and while there are a few remaining scalawags in the PNP the cleansing process is done without let-up. We from Mindanao are comfortable and secured with their presence even under the aegis of martial law. If you do not believe me look at the various surveys on the popularity and trust of Filipinos on President Duterte and his government.

This will end my perspectives for year 2017 and we look forward to 2018 the “Build, Build, Build” era. The beginning of the new Philippines. Mindanao and Davao City, from where I live and write, may have suffered from natural calamities but we had seen, suffered and endured worse scenarios and even man made tragedies than that. We do our thing to rebound quietly and come out stronger each time. We mourn the deaths but after the the last note of the dirge fades we will sing again just like the birds after the worst of storms.

Happy New Year!!!

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.

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