Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed no president has matched Duterte’s gains during the first half of his term.
Palace rates Duterte 9 out of 10
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite criticisms of the administration’s key policies including its stance on the South China Sea row and the bloody war on drugs, Malacañang believes President Duterte deserves a near perfect grade in his first three years in office.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed no president has matched Duterte’s gains during the first half of his term.

“In a scale of 10, it should be nine,” Panelo said in a radio interview yesterday when asked how he would assess Duterte’s performance.

“Didn’t you see the list of his accomplishments? No other president was able to do that by their admission,” he added.

In a statement over the weekend, Panelo described Duterte’s accomplishments as “countless and incomparable” and claimed that the “best is yet to come.”

Among the gains he cited were the lower crime rate, the surrender of “more than a million” drug offenders and the intensified fight against illegal drugs, a campaign that Duterte’s critics say has encouraged extrajudicial killings.

Duterte has denied the allegation and maintained that the crackdown, which has left more than 6,000 suspects dead, is needed to save the next generation from the drug menace.

Panelo also cited measures to thwart the communist rebellion and terrorism, the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, improved revenue collections, social services like free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation to farmers, free internet access in public places, institutionalization of feeding programs for public school students, universal health care, higher pensions for senior citizens and higher pay for civilian and uniformed personnel of the government.

He also mentioned Duterte’s independent foreign policy, which he said removed the Philippines’ “subservience” to the West and led to the improvement of ties with Russia and China.

While officials hail the improved relations with China, critics said Duterte is not doing enough to assert Manila’s claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Critics have also accused Duterte of abandoning the claims in exchange for Chinese assistance.

Duterte has repeatedly said he would not give up an inch of Philippine territory but stressed that he won’t go to war over a maritime row.

Panelo said more has to be done to promote the welfare of Filipinos. He called for the passage of amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, the Retail Trade Act and Public Service Act, and implementation of the ambitious infrastructure program ‘Build, Build, Build.’

He also expressed hope that the next Congress would support Duterte’s legislative agenda and pass bills that would benefit the public.

Panelo also claimed Duterte has been fulfilling his campaign promises that enabled him to win by landslide in 2016.

He said the President has been firing officials to “destroy the culture of corruption in the country.”

Members of the opposition, however, doubt the seriousness of Duterte’s anti-corruption campaign, noting that some officials he dismissed have been given new posts.

The President, however, has repeatedly said he is bent on addressing corruption in the bureaucracy, a campaign promise that he said would not spare anyone, not even his allies.

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