President Rodrigo Duterte said he has begun packing up his things in Malacañang and was looking forward to turning over the leadership of the country to his successor in June, but is determined to work hard to serve the Filipino people until his final day in office.
But with less than four months left until the end of his term, the president remains first focused on maintaining the forward momentum of the country’s Covid-19 response and laying the groundwork for an inclusive economic recovery in 2022.
“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. In about three months, there will be nothing left [of my things]. I’m already packing. Others I sent through cargo ship [to Davao City]. The small things, the tokens, the bronze ones, will be for later. I prioritized the heavy ones,” Duterte said.
“I urge voters to consider the nation’s best interest by electing leaders who will build on the progress made under the Duterte Administration.”
While many Filipinos express sadness that President Rodrigo Duterte’s term is coming to an end, even with a net satisfaction rating of +60, such is the democratic reality.
“It is up to the Filipino people to decide who among them can actually carry on the positive initiatives started by the current administration in order to provide a comfortable life for all,” his man-friday Senator Cristopher Bong Go echoed.
“So President Duterte stresses on the success of the government’s vaccination efforts to spur a immunity herd as soon as possible,” he added.
This was partly made possible through an aggressive information campaign that helped bring down vaccine hesitancy levels among adult Filipinos from 33% in May to just 8% in December 2021, according to Social Weather Stations surveys.
“Everything has to come to an end at some point. That said, I am confident that he has done his best in serving the country most especially in the management of the pandemic responses,” said Senator Go.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go credited the safety and effectivity of the vaccines at reducing one’s risk of getting severely sick or dying of Covid-19, while the status of most parts of the country turn to either low or moderate risk.
According to the DOH, low risk areas in the country have an average daily attack rate of less than one per 100,000 people, whereas moderate risk areas have a rate of one to seven. Meanwhile, total bed occupancy and intensive care unit usage rates in all areas are at low to moderate risk. The national health system’s capacity is in a sound state.
Despite these developments, however, concerns over the World Health Organization’s assessment that more than 2.5 million senior citizens in the country have yet to get their jabs, lingers, even while the campaign for children 5 to 12 and youths 12 to 18 will most likely vaccinate 80 to 90% of the population by the end of President Duterte’s term in June 2022.
Duterte’s back-to-back second priority is the fast-recovery for our economy. As such he has pushed for the legislation of much-needed economic reforms that would help the Philippines recover faster from the pandemic and attract more investments.
The passage of laws amending the Public Service Act (PSA), the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), and the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) will be key to driving investments into the Philippines.
The three measures are aimed at easing restrictions on foreign ownership on some sectors. The bills amending the PSA and the FIA are still pending at the Senate, while a Bicameral Conference Committee has yet to finalize the version of the RTLA amendments.
The Senate is also late in ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The 15 member countries account for about 30% of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30% of global GDP ($29.7 trillion), making it the largest trade bloc in history.
The RCEP was conceived at the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, while negotiations formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. India, which took part in the initial negotiations but later decided to opt out, was invited to join the bloc at any time.
The treaty was formally signed on 15 November 2020 at the virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam, and formally began January 1, 2022, As of January 17, only seven of the ten ASEAN and all five of the non-ASEAN signatories have deposited their instruments of RCEP ratification with the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
Senator Go said that he feels the momentum of our economy which registered a 5.6% GDP growth. Philippine economic managers remain optimistic about economic prospects in 2022. The official forecast for 2022 GDP was pegged at 7-9% with growth expected to get a boost from national elections scheduled in May.