By Mario Casayuran
At the end of his six-year term, let the people, not us politicians, give the final grading of the performance of President Duterte.
This was the opinion of Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), on the controversial first two years of the Duterte administration during a DWIZ radio interview on Saturday.
The third year of the Duterte administration starts today with the President scheduled to deliver his ‘’State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
Although he tried to be reticent in giving a judgment, Pangilinan still found fault in some of the campaign promises of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
This include a vow to stop the P128-billion annual illegal drug trade in three to six months upon assuming presidential powers but is ‘’obviously wala because it is still there.’’ (Obviously there is nothing to crow about).
Although Malacanang has control over the Bureau of Customs, some P6.4 billion worth of ‘’shabu’’ (crystal meth) from China were smuggled through the Manila International Container Port and not one big operator was jailed.
Those linked to the drug smuggling through negligence or were in cahoots with the smugglers were either promoted or transferred to other posts, Pangilinan said.
Those jailed or killed in the bloody anti-illegal drugs war were penniless while the drug lords are still free.
He also said the situation at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinglupa has not improved although Sen. Leila de Lima, an LP member, has been detained for many months for alleged links to the illegal drugs operations at the NBP.
In the anti-corruption campaign, Pangilinan sneezed at the corrupt practices at the Department of Tourism and the soft handling of those linked to the illegal drug trade by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
As a former agriculture official during the Aquino administration, Pangilinan said the mishandling by the National Food Authority (NFA) of rice stocks led to the increase in the price of rice.
Asked if the Duterte administration has the political will to solve national problems, Pangilinan said the price of rice per kilo has risen from P15 to P40.
The LP chief pointed out that the Duterte anti-illegal drug campaign is not successful as there are 400 policemen tagged as drug addicts and the deaths of 20,000 in the bloody drug war are still under investigation.
‘’Where’s the result? It is clear the drug campaign cannot be resolved,’’ he stressed.
He said the current dismal performance of the Philippine peso vis a vis the US dollar and increasing inflation rate are hurting consumers.
The weak peso is also a burden to the country’s debt payment program, he pointed out.
Pangilinan said the weak economic performance of the Duterte administration and unclear political program like federalism are slowing down the flow of direct foreign investments (FDIs) into the country.
The unresolved insurgency situation is also affecting expansion plans of businesses and flow of FDIs, he added.