DEBUNKING THE SO-CALLED DUTERTE LEGACY
At the time when the Taal Volcano is on the verge of its eruption, the Communications Operations Office alongside other Cabinet officials launched the “Duterte Legacy” at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on January 17, 2020.
The campaign aims to highlight the government’s progress in three key pillars such as peace and order, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation. But we all know that President Rodrigo Duterte has marked his three-year term with intensified fascist attacks and corruption coupled with deleterious anti-people policies.
Debunking the fake legacy
4,199,288 jobs generated
There were only 4,152,684 employed in the entire construction industry in 2019. Quibble that ‘jobs’ are different from ‘employment’ but that Build, Build, Build jobs figure is misleading and probably made-up.
4.5% unemployment rate lowest since 2005
This is just the October 2019 round figure and the complete 2019 annual unemployment rate is some 5.1%. And if you also count millions of jobless Filipinos the tweaked methodology stopped counting as unemployed (since 2005), unemployment is around 10%. In either case still the highest unemployment rate in East Asia.
Research group IBON said the recently reported large increase in employment and a slight decrease in unemployment bring much-needed relief to millions of Filipinos who have been suffering worsening unemployment since the Duterte administration began. The group however also warned against complacency. Looking at the official labor force survey results more completely shows that the majority of jobs created were temporary and poor-quality.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that in October 2019 the employment rate grew to 95.5%, while the unemployment rate was lower at 4.5 percent. The number of employed Filipinos rose by 1.8 million to 43.1 million and the number of unemployed declined by 153,000 to 2 million.
According to IBON estimates correcting for government underestimation, however, the number of unemployed was actually 4.1 million in October 2019. This is over double the officially reported 2 million unemployed. Official unemployment figures do not reflect discouraged workers who stopped looking for work in the past six months or those unable to immediately take up work, instead they are considered ‘not in the labor force’.
5.9 million lifted from poverty
This decline in poverty is however illusory in using a very low poverty threshold of Php71 per person per day on average, or just Php10,727 per month for a family of five. This is officially deemed enough for Filipinos to meet their food and non-food needs and no longer be poor.
Setting such a low-income standard obscure how the conditions of tens of millions of Filipinos are not fundamentally improving. For instance, the same family income data would show that 12.4 million Filipino families or over half of the population try to survive on just Php132 or much less per person per day.
200,000 fewer families experience involuntary hunger
Research group IBON said that the results of the expanded national nutrition survey (ENNS) dispute the logic of institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for poverty alleviation under Republic Act (RA) №11310. The program is said to be an “investment in the next generation” that develops healthy educated Filipinos. Yet after over 10 years of implementation, said the group, Filipino children still suffer from chronic undernutrition. Also, more than half of the population remains food insecure.
Data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) show that the nutritional status of Filipino children has not significantly changed since 2008 when the 4Ps commenced. Stunting, in particular, has even worsened among infants and young children. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stunting as the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
596,859 decent and affordable housing
As the National Housing Authority serves eviction notices to members of urban poor organization Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) who have occupied long-vacant and dilapidated relocation units in Pandi, Bulacan, research group IBON said that the so-called socialized housing largely benefits private developers through public-private partnerships (PPPs). These private realty and construction firms garner profits and incentives from public-funded housing while much-needed homes remain inaccessible for poor Filipinos. The group said that the Duterte administration should uphold Filipino people’s right to decent and affordable shelter and reverse housing privatization.
IBON said that the so-called socialized housing has considerable profit potential for private realty and construction firms. The Class D market where informal settlers belong is largely untapped and expanding, providing numerous opportunities for big housing developers. The government estimated a housing backlog of 800,000 units per year or a total of 5.8 million units from 2010–2016. The World Bank also stated that the Philippines has one of the highest rates of urban population growth among poor countries.
Philippine ranked 49th in IMD World Talent 2019
The Philippines jumped six notches to place 49th in a list that ranks countries based on their ability to attract and retain talent, yet it still ranked last among its Asean neighbors.
While the Philippines was the most improved in Asean, it was not enough to outpace its neighbors, most of whom have recorded gains. Singapore improved by three notches and Indonesia by four. Meanwhile, Malaysia kept its ranking last year while Thailand fell one notch.
15 treatment and rehabilitation centers
When the Philippine government came up with a so-called rehabilitation plan (quite quickly, as it has always been lying there as the country’s ‘development plan’), it carried the same neoliberal policies. It is a private-sector-led, infrastructure-centered rehabilitation plan, even placing the important aspects of disaster response under private provisioning. The plan has been easily transformed as the grand infrastructure program, Build, Build, Build, by the Duterte administration.
IBON executive editor and research head Rosario Bella Guzman also noted that the government’s Build Back Better program facilitated full neoliberal or market-oriented reforms in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-stricken areas. “Declaring the shores as no dwelling zones (NDZ) mandated clearing so-called hazard areas of survivors’ homes and livelihood in favor of business structures such as hotels and resorts. Additionally, the land use policy favored the conversion of agricultural lands to other uses,” said Guzman.
243 seaports, 2,709 bridges, 64 airports built, 9,845 KM of roads
Infrastructure program under the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN)-funded Build, Build, Build included the construction of airports, roads, and seaports among others, which are all bound to collect expensive user fees from the public.
Between the unscrupulous and onerous agreement of China and the Philippines, it includes construction of Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam, Pasig-Marikina River bridges, Davao-Samal bridge, and Davao River bridges among others.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reports 12 international airports, 33 domestic airports, and 41 community airports.”
Broadcaster Erwin Tulfo, who is a known supporter of Duterte, erroneously claimed in his news and public affairs program aired on November 2, 2019, about the number of completed airports and ongoing projects in the government, according to Vera Files.
The Duterte administration claimed that these numbers are completed projects since Duterte took office. However, not all of those airports, seaports, bridges, and roads are newly built. Some are currently for repair, rehabilitation, and expansion.
0.8% inflation rate slows pace since May 2016
According to Rappler’s report, although the Philippines recorded a 0.8% inflation rate in October 2019, it was also under the Duterte government when the country’s inflation rate spiked to 6.7%, which was recorded in September and October 2018. This was the highest recorded in 9 years, or since March 2009.
In the months following the October 2019 rate, inflation surged again but within the government’s targets: at 1.3% in November and 2.5% in December, the latest as of writing.
8,185 high-value targets arrested
Last November, the Department of Justice has cleared alleged drug lords Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and 20 others of charges related to the narcotics trade due to lack of evidence, according to a resolution made public. Lim, a businessman was a suspected drug lord in Central Visayas tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte. Espinosa and Co were accused of being among leaders of the drug trade in Regions Central and Eastern Visayas.
596, 859 decent and affordable housing
When Duterte assumed the presidency, the number of families without their own homes was at 5.5 million — 1.5 million of them informal settlers. At the same time, resettlement sites developed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) were mostly unoccupied.
In March 2017, the militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), around 6,000 families occupied resettlement areas of the NHA located in the municipality of Pandi, Bulacan.
71,803 classrooms built
Around 66,000 classrooms that received funding between 2014 and 2018 are yet to be completed or turned over.
Based on the monitoring of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), a total of 15 regions have reported of the “same old problems plaguing their schools” at the start of school year 2019–2020. ACT cited that these regions have reported the lack of sufficient classrooms — with most schools still operating on shifting schedules and 50 to 70 class size.
For instance, some students and teachers in public schools in Regions 1 and 6 are “cramped in makeshift classrooms” made out of galvanized iron sheets while those in Region 5, “they hold classes in nipa huts.” Schools that were struck by typhoon “Yolanda” in Region 8 have also “been holding all their classes in plywood classrooms” since 2014.
ACT also cited the cases in Regions 7 and 11 “where classes are held in comfort rooms-turned-classroom, in covered courts, by the stairs, and under the trees right outside the school building.” In Region 13, the group noted that “every year level has a one-day holiday every week due to insufficient spaces to hold classes.”
Meanwhile, the group noted that actual classrooms in Regions 3 and 9 are still cramped and “suffer from poor ventilation” thus, teachers and parents are often forced to “provide electric fans for rooms.” To address the lack of school chairs, ACT said that some parents also provide their “children their seats as the available ones at school are limited.”
The case of comfort rooms converted to faculty rooms in Bacoor National High School, meanwhile, is not an isolated case but a concrete manifestation of how the Department of Education tries to circumvent the legitimate concerns of our teachers and students, calling these ill problems as mere “dramatic” and “touching”.
5.6% families reporting victimization by common crimes
The survey was done on September 27–30, 2019, found 5.6% or an estimated 1.4 million families reporting victimization by any of the common crimes such as pickpocket or robbery of personal property, break-ins, carnapping, and physical violence within the past six months.
But the survey was only conducted covering the third quarter of 2019.
726 government workers arrested in anti-drug operations and 2,799 children involved in illegal drug activities rescued
In an interview of Rappler with Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch, researcher for the Philippines, he questioned the numbers’ integrity, saying, “We can’t trust the police to make any assessments of how the drug war is done precisely because the police are the ones complicit in the killings.”
The Philippine internet has become a swamp of fake news and conspiracy theories, harassment and bullying. This has clouded public discourse and cultivated a populist attitude toward democracy. What is true is no longer important as long as the majority supports it. Responsibility has been discarded for partisanship.
Even before Duterte became president, a multitude of dubious independent news sites, counterfeits of established news outlets and blatantly partisan blogs have supported him, including false endorsements from leaders like Pope Francis as he was “chosen by God. Even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) purportedly named him “the best president in the solar system.”
Meanwhile, a study by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project determined that the Duterte campaign paid $200,000 for as many as 500 dedicated trolls to attack dissenters and spread disinformation.
In January 2018, journalist Ellen Tordesillas called Duterte as the number one source of fake news. According to Vera Files’ report in November 2018, Duterte has made at least nine false claims in an 86-minute speech, including issues on the permanent court of arbitration, post-World War II aid, and the country’s first oil field. Duterte has refused to condemn the proliferation of fake news, as well as the belligerence of his supporters through high-time paid officials like Mocha Uson.
Duterte’s true legacy is defined by committing obvious treason and corruption coupled with repressive policies and pernicious attacks. His entire administration brought a huge disservice to the Filipino people. That’s a fact.