BBM, Duterte threats and sleep deprivation

VIRTUAL REALITY - Tony Lopez - The Philippine Star

In December 2023, President Marcos Jr. scored an approval rating of 71 percent, up six points from 65 percent in October 2023, according to OCTA Research Group which polled 1,200 respondents during Dec. 10-14. Error margin was three percentage points, quite high, if you ask statisticians.

OCTA is new in the survey game so I assume they do things right to gain credibility and currency.

Astonishingly, only nine percent are not satisfied with the President’s performance. BBM sleeps well at night.

Vice President Sara Duterte enjoyed a higher approval rating, 75 percent, up from October 2023’s 70 percent. That’s mainly because Mindanao skewed results of the national total. Astonishingly, Sara had 97 percent approval from Mindanao; in Luzon, she got only 61 percent.

Sara’s awesome popularity in Mindanao might have prompted her dad, ex-president Rodrigo Duterte, while praying, to hurl four kinds of threat against PBBM – coup, insurrection, assassination and separatism. Fortunately, people took the threats as a joke, not a fervent prayer.

But somebody could not sleep. Duterte spokesperson Harry Roque claimed the former president confided information that he might be arrested amid the International Criminal Court’s probe of drug killings while Digong was Davao mayor. Roque admitted he could not sleep after that.

In the south, people never heard or don’t mind Sara’s penchant with confidential and intelligence funds (CIF), the hundreds of millions of tax money their recipient can spend with gay abandon, without accountability. No need for receipts. Government auditors do not dare to question you. Such an act could be misinterpreted as lack of intelligence (hindi nakaka-intindi).

For 2024, Sara asked Congress for P500 million of CIF. The Philippine Coast Guard, which is fighting Chinese intruders in the West Philippine Sea, was originally allowed a measly P10 million. Happily, Sara’s P500-million gambit was denied.

BBM’s approval rating in Mindanao is just 57 percent. His approval rating in areas outside Metro Manila (balance of Luzon which includes Ilocandia) is 77 percent, the highest among the regions.

Speaker Martin Romualdez enjoyed an approval rating of 65 percent, quite high for the leader of the 310-member House.

If things seem brighter, better and more buoyant these days for millions of Filipinos, they have Marcos Jr. and the current 19th Congress mainly to thank.

In just 18 months (July 25, 2022 to the present), the most far-ranging and highest impact pieces of social and economic legislation passed through the 19th Congress.

This makes the House of Representatives led by Speaker Romualdez the most productive and visionary Congress in the 117-year history of an elected Philippine legislature. Of course, no bill becomes law without Senate consent.

Legislative-led social and economic reforms covered a mind-boggling range, including measures to raise badly needed capital for modernization (the Maharlika Investment Fund), help achieve fiscal balance (the budgets of 2023 and 2024), curb corruption, emancipate farmers and promote economic dynamism, national digitalization (SIM Card Law and Internet Transactions Act), disaster resilience, consumer protection, military pension reform, military modernization, health care and tax reforms such as the estate tax amnesty, ease of payment of taxes and CREATE.

The annual budget, which is focused on economic transformation, must originate only from the House.

In 2022, economic growth was the highest since 1976, surpassing all forecasts and outperforming even the government’s growth range target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent for 2022. In 2023, GDP growth was 5.6 percent. The country missed its target of 6-7 percent. Still, 5.6 is the highest in ASEAN.

To boost infra spending and economic dynamism, there is the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code.

Marcos Jr. signed into law the PPP Code of the Philippines on Dec. 5, 2023.

PPP reinforces the country’s investment ecosystem and creates a more stable and predictable policy environment for collaboration in high-impact infrastructure projects.

The PPP Code furthers the President’s Eight-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of enabling high-quality job creation and inclusive growth by promoting investments in critical physical and social infrastructure.

“The PPP Code will enable much-needed development across various sectors and accelerate the delivery of public services necessary for economic growth and socioeconomic transformation. With its implementation, the government can harness PPPs to finance priority programs such as the Marcos administration’s Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) and even social infrastructure in the education and health sectors. The law encourages leveraging private-sector expertise in process innovation, resource mobilization and high-quality service delivery,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Among the measures authored by the Cornell-educated Leyte Congressman Martin during the first and second regular sessions of the 19th Congress which convened on July 25, 2022 and will adjourn on June 6, 2025:

1. RA No. 11934 – Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act

2. RA No. 11936 – General Appropriations Act of 2023

3. RA No. 11937 – An Act Granting Philippine Citizenship to Justin Donta Brownlee

4. RA No. 11953 – New Agrarian Emancipation Act

5. RA No. 11954 – Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023

6. RA No. 11939 – An Act Further Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Amending for the Purpose RA No. 11709

7. RA No. 11956 – An Act Further Amending RA No. 11213, otherwise known as the Tax Amnesty Act, as amended by RA No. 11569, by Extending the Period of Availment of the Estate Tax Amnesty Until June 14, 2025 and for Other Purposes

8. RA No. 11959 – An Act Establishing Specialty Centers in Department of Health Hospitals in Every Region and in Government-Owned or Controlled Corporation Specialty Hospitals and Appropriating Funds Therefor

9. RA No. 11965 – Caregivers Welfare Act

10. RA No. 11966 – Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code of the Philippines

11. RA No. 11967 – Internet Transactions Act of 2023

12. RA No. 11975 – General Appropriations Act of 2024

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