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Duterte hopes next admin will continue reforms

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Duterte hopes next admin will continue reforms
In a speech on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that in the past six years, his administration has introduced reforms to further empower government instrumentalities and ensure the seamless delivery of basic services.
Presidential Communications Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte hopes the next administration will continue his reform programs to build a more inclusive and sustainable Philippines.

In a speech on Thursday, the President said that in the past six years, his administration has introduced reforms to further empower government instrumentalities and ensure the seamless delivery of basic services.

“In fulfillment of this administration’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ agenda beyond my term, I hope that you will constantly explore innovations and strategies that will further streamline, develop and improve government services to the people for greater efficiency,” he said.

“May our pursuit of change and progress never cease to gain more momentum in the coming years, under the new leadership,” he added.

Duterte again expressed his gratitude to those who voted for him as president, adding he has served all Filipinos.

“Let me, from the bottom of my heart, express my gratitude to you all for allowing me to journey the presidency for six years. I served the country irrespective of each tribal division… You can see the infrastructure now because when I was President, I said I will distribute the money equally to all regions whether I won in that place or not,” Duterte said.

“So now you see the Philippines – everywhere you go – there’s an infrastructure and there’s the ever, ever no ending roads in provinces. Those are the things, small things. If you expect more, I’m sorry, that’s all I can really do. But still, I am very grateful to you for making me President of the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte will step down from office on June 30.

Congress is eyeing the proclamation of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio as the country’s next president and vice president on May 27.

No to Dar’s retention

Meanwhile, the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) has expressed opposition to the willingness of William Dar to serve again as agriculture secretary of the incoming administration.

“Secretary Dar’s tenure has been about importation across commodities normally sourced from countries with heavily subsidized agricultural systems. He has been completely subservient to the misguided emphasis on import liberalization by neoliberal economists,” the group said in an open letter to presumptive president Marcos Jr.

“Ostensibly, imports are meant to benefit the consumer. The reality is that, whether accidentally or intentionally, it has conveniently benefitted mainly the vested interests of importers at the expense of the majority of our people,” it added.

The group stressed that retail prices have remained high despite increasing importation through the years.

“It is a failed doctrine. It has made us dependent on overseas employment and business process outsourcing. It has deprived us of the chance to harness our resources to achieve food sovereignty,” UBRA stressed.

Various agriculture groups have earlier opposed government policies that facilitate the importation of agricultural goods such as fish, sugar, pork and rice.

The DA earlier approved the issuance of certificates of necessity to import 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fishes for the first quarter this year.?In addition, the board of the Sugar Regulatory Administration also approved the importation of 200,000 MT of refined sugar due to the projected tightness of supply at the end of the milling season.

Last year, Duterte issued Executive Order 133, which increased the minimum access volume for pork meat to 254,210 MT for year 2021 from 54,210 MT, as one of the measures to augment local pork supply and stabilize prices in the market.

EO 134 was also signed by the President in May last year. This provides that in-quota pork imports or those under the MAV are imposed a 10 percent tariff for three months and increased to 15 percent in the remaining months. This is lower than the original rate of 30 percent.?In the same month, rice tariffs were also further lowered to 35 percent for all with the issuance of EO 135, in a bid to diversify sources amid rising global prices.

Dar stressed earlier that all of the government’s decisions regarding importation were made based on the deficiency and gap that the local sector cannot produce.?“We are on very dangerous ground because Secretary Dar implemented import liberalization to the hilt. He has made us more vulnerable to the interrelated forces of climate change and deglobalization which make importation unreliable,” UBRA alleged.

“Supply chains are in a sustained state of disruption and will be so in the years, if not for decades, to come. Climate change has brought us extremes in water stress. It is either drought or floods,” it added.

Apart from the push for importation, UBRA also urged the presumptive president to consider the Commission on Audit (COA) finding on the DA for 2020, citing that the agency was flagged for P9.454 billion in disallowances, audit suspensions and charges.

It also cited findings from the COA report which showed that there were P17.542 billion in unliquidated fund transfers to implementing agencies and non-government organizations aside from the P20.210-billion unliquidated fund transfers in prior years and P9.806 billion returned to the National Treasury. – Catherine Talavera

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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