President Rodrigo R. Duterte. (Presidential file photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte had a “great” four years in office, Malacañang said on Thursday.

“It’s been a great four years,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4, when asked to assess Duterte’s performance as the country’s president.

This, after Duterte marked his fourth anniversary as the country’s highest elected official on June 30.

When it comes to the Philippine economy, Duterte did a “great performance” in his last four years and before the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic hit the country, Roque said.

“We have limited time pero masasabi ko naman po na bago tayo tamaan ng pandemya (but I can say that before we were hit by the pandemic), we have the best performing economy not just in Southeast Asia, one of the best in the whole world,” he said.

The country’s economic growth from 2016 to 2019 ranged from 6.9 percent to 6 percent.

The Philippine economy grew 6.9 percent in 2016, 6.7 percent in 2017, 6.2 percent in 2018, and 6 percent in 2019, making the country’s standing as one of Asia’s fast-growing economies.

“So it was actually a great performance as far as the economy is concerned,” Roque said.

The Philippines, however, suffered its first economic contraction in 22 years due to Covid-19 crisis.

The country’s gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent from January to March this year, according to the official data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Roque was optimistic that the country would be able to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Meron po tayong pagsubok pero dahil meron po tayong very sound fundamentals, makakaahon din po tayo dito sa pagsubok ng Covid-19 (We are facing challenges but because we have very sound fundamentals, we can recover from the challenges brought about by Covid-19),” he said.

Roque said the government would reopen the economy amid the pandemic to ensure the country’s quick recovery from Covid-19.

“Dumating na tayo sa punto na kinakailangan din nating buksan ang ekonomiya nang hindi naman tayo mamatay sa gutom dahil walang hanapbuhay (We reached the point that we have to reopen the economy so no one will die just because they lose their jobs),” he said.

Roque also noted that despite the pressing issues confronting the country, majority of Filipinos still appreciate Duterte’s work performance.

He added that most Filipinos continue to support Duterte’s policies and programs, including his intensified crackdown on illegal drugs.

“Sang-ayon po sa mga survey din, talagang overhelming majority ng ating mga kababayan, suportado naman po ang mga aksiyon na ginawa ng ating Presidente (Based on surveys, overwhelming majorityng of our fellow countrymen support the President’s actions),” he said.

When Duterte assumed office in 2016, he promised to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs, corruption in government, and criminality. (PNA)

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