MANILA - A year since assuming office, President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy high popularity ratings and he should use this political capital to push for major reforms, an analyst said.
Dr. Jean Encinas-Franco of the University of the Philippines Department of Political Science said Duterte’s popularity will not necessarily translate to fulfillment of his campaign promises.
Franco told DZMM on Thursday the President should take advantage of his popularity and political support to establish "bold" reforms.
"Sana gamitin niya ito...ngayon siya dapat magpakitang gilas at mag-institute ng bold reforms," she said.
She explained that despite criticisms of the President’s fiery rhetoric, Duterte continues to enjoy popularity not just in the Philippines but in some other countries as well.
“Kasi the way he speaks parang mayor pa rin siya pero national leader na,” she said.
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last March showed the Duterte administration got a net satisfaction score of +66, considered “very good” in the pollster’s scale.
If she were to rate Duterte’s performance in his first year, Franco would give Duterte a passing mark of 6 out of 10.
One of her concerns is the President’s approach to the illegal drug problem, which has been criticized for human rights violations.
Police data show that over 3,000 drug suspects have died in presumed legitimate police operations in Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs.
Out of 9,432 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 or the first 9 months of the Duterte administration, 1,847 cases were been found to be drug-related, and 5,691 cases under investigation.
Duterte's anti-narcotics drive has also resulted to a 26.45 percent drop in the estimated total drug market and 28.57 percent reduction in index crime, according to police data.
“Hindi pa rin talaga natin alam gaano katindi [ang problema sa droga] or napapatindi lang dahil sa rhetoric at coverage,” she said.
Franco said, as Duterte enters his second year, a “long term” program in resolving the drug problem should be undertaken by the government.
“After a year, dapat may reframing naman ng strategy,” she said.
Duterte, the country’s first Mindanaoan president, handily won the May 2016 polls with a promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and corruption. He also wants to establish a federal system of government.
Franco also called on Duterte to strengthen government institutions in resolving problems such as corruption and terrorism.
With the ongoing siege in Marawi City, Franco said the government should consider improving its presence in Mindanao, taking advantage of the president’s southern roots.
Duterte has waged a high-profile anti-corruption drive, firing several officials accused of wrongdoing.
Regardless of Duterte’s strong personality and political will, Franco said strengthening government institutions will be the key to addressing corruption in the bureaucracy, especially in the long term.
“Yung corruption napakalalim at napakacomplex na issue eh so kailangan palakasin mo yung institusyon. Eh kahit na napakalakas ng political will ng leader at natatakot sa kaniya, uulitin lang ito pag iba na ang administrasyon so kailangan pangmalawakan [ang solusyon],” she said.