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New President Duterte Driving Change in the Philippines

 alt“We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back.”

Change has come fast and hard under the administration of President Duterte.

Despite the fears of many observers, the change is not characterized by his brutal rhetoric during the presidential campaign. His first State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2016, was instead marked by optimism and compassion towards the Filipino people.

As in distinctive Duterte fashion, he went off-script 30 minutes into his speech and began speaking in his no-nonsense manner, inciting laughter and applause. However, his language was no longer riddled with swearing, and his approach carried a more diplomatic and tactful tone.

This is a great departure from his campaign persona as an unforgiving and violent vigilante towards criminality and corruption. While still maintaining an iron fist in abolishing the rampant drug use in the country, he assured that his administration will be distinguished by clean and transparent governance. The crux of his address was to uphold the comfort and welfare of the Filipino in every aspect—basic rights, safety, job security, and dignity.

He said Filipinos, on a household level, must be provided sufficient income to meet their basic and non-basic requirements. He also plans to continue the country’s current macroeconomic policies, and even attract more investments that will guarantee job creation suitable for the poor and the less skilled. This echoes his platform and experiences in his Davao City, where there was strong support for the BPO industry. Should employment be an unviable option, especially for those in rural areas, entrepreneurship is an advocated alternative.

One of his most outstanding statements is his stand to protect women’s rights by fully implementing the Magna Carta for Women, essentially promoting a feminist outlook in creating equal opportunities and rights for Filipino men and women.

A far cry from his rhetoric during the presidential campaign, Duterte has now renounced his ruthless, controversial, and divisive rhetoric, and favored a more unifying and peaceful stance in addressing pressing Philippine issues.

Duterte also pushed for lower income and corporate taxes, full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, fast and efficient government processes, as well as a unilateral ceasefire with the communist New People’s Army. 

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