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A look at the 2-year-old Duterte presidency, then and now

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2018 06:13 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2018 06:38 PM

MANILA - They say a year can make so much difference. How much more two?

Since President Duterte assumed office in mid-2016, change has indeed come in some fronts, from foreign policy shifts and cabinet reshuffles to leadership changes in critical institutions and a fallout with communist rebels. In other concerns, however, there's been little or no change at all.

Here's a look at how some things were in mid-2016, and how they are now under Duterte's presidency:

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1. LEFT LEFT OUT?

When President Duterte assumed office, hopes of improved ties between leftist groups--traditionally opposed to government--and the administration were high, with activists even setting foot inside the Batasang Pambansa during the chief executive's first State of the Nation Address (SONA), following their annual protest.

Two years later, nearly all leftists in the Cabinet are out, and Duterte appears to have lost his appeal to leftist groups. They even staged their own "People's SONA" coinciding with Duterte's second report to the nation last year, and have since been vocal in criticizing the President's policies.

1. LEFT LEFT OUT?

When President Duterte assumed office, hopes of improved ties between leftist groups--traditionally opposed to government--and the administration were high, with activists even setting foot inside the Batasang Pambansa during the chief executive's first State of the Nation Address (SONA), following their annual protest.

Two years later, nearly all leftists in the Cabinet are out, and Duterte appears to have lost his appeal to leftist groups. They even staged their own "People's SONA" coinciding with Duterte's second report to the nation last year, and have since been vocal in criticizing the President's policies.

2. VACANT CHIEF JUSTICE POST

Duterte came to power with the country's first female top magistrate Maria Lourdes Sereno heading the judiciary, who was expected to even outlast his 6-year presidency.

Two years since, Duterte is set to deliver his third SONA with the chief justice post vacant following Sereno's historic ouster via a grant of a "quo warranto" petition filed by the government's own lawyer.

2. VACANT CHIEF JUSTICE POST

Duterte came to power with the country's first female top magistrate Maria Lourdes Sereno heading the judiciary, who was expected to even outlast his 6-year presidency.

Two years since, Duterte is set to deliver his third SONA with the chief justice post vacant following Sereno's historic ouster via a grant of a "quo warranto" petition filed by the government's own lawyer.

3. KOKO OUT, TITO IN

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who heads the President's PDP-Laban party, was elected Senate president in 2016 at the start of the 17th Congress.

After more than 2 years at the Senate's helm, Pimentel stepped down in May this year after senators voted for a change in leadership. He was succeeded by then-Senate Majority leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, a key administration ally.

3. KOKO OUT, TITO IN

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who heads the President's PDP-Laban party, was elected Senate president in 2016 at the start of the 17th Congress.

After more than 2 years at the Senate's helm, Pimentel stepped down in May this year after senators voted for a change in leadership. He was succeeded by then-Senate Majority leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, a key administration ally.

4. REVAMPED FOREIGN POLICY

In his first year in office, President Duterte stunned the world with his push for a truly “independent” foreign policy, distancing Manila from its traditional ally, the United States.

This move was later followed by a statement of "separation" from the United States and then a rejection of aid from the European Union.

Duterte instead steered the country closer towards Russia and, most especially, China, despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea.

4. REVAMPED FOREIGN POLICY

In his first year in office, President Duterte stunned the world with his push for a truly “independent” foreign policy, distancing Manila from its traditional ally, the United States.

This move was later followed by a statement of "separation" from the United States and then a rejection of aid from the European Union.

Duterte instead steered the country closer towards Russia and, most especially, China, despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea.

5. HOT N' COLD: FLIP-FLOPPING PEACE TALKS

Since becoming President, Duterte has been vocal about his desire to put an end to the world's longest-running Maoist insurgency, which has claimed roughly 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

Throughout his first two years in office, peace talks with communist rebels have seen ups and downs, with terminations and resumptions.

In April this year, the President said he wants to give peace talks with communist rebels "another last chance," but government put on hold the latest scheduled resumption of negotiations, citing the need for further public consultation.

5. HOT N' COLD: FLIP-FLOPPING PEACE TALKS

Since becoming President, Duterte has been vocal about his desire to put an end to the world's longest-running Maoist insurgency, which has claimed roughly 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

Throughout his first two years in office, peace talks with communist rebels have seen ups and downs, with terminations and resumptions.

In April this year, the President said he wants to give peace talks with communist rebels "another last chance," but government put on hold the latest scheduled resumption of negotiations, citing the need for further public consultation.

6. THE ROAD TO FEDERALISM

Changing the country's form of government was among Duterte's key campaign promises, as he asserted that federalism is the only way to achieve lasting peace in the south and uplift impoverished rural areas.

In keeping with his word, Duterte earlier this month received the draft federal constitution of the consultative committee he formed to review the 1987 Constitution. The President is set to endorse the draft federal charter to Congress.

6. THE ROAD TO FEDERALISM

Changing the country's form of government was among Duterte's key campaign promises, as he asserted that federalism is the only way to achieve lasting peace in the south and uplift impoverished rural areas.

In keeping with his word, Duterte earlier this month received the draft federal constitution of the consultative committee he formed to review the 1987 Constitution. The President is set to endorse the draft federal charter to Congress.

7. 'TOKHANG' RELOADED

Even before being elected as the country's leader, Duterte already warned of a bloody crackdown on illegal drugs--a campaign promise that he has kept, drawing much criticism from rights advocates and foreign governments over a rising death toll.

Two years on, a total of 4,279 drug suspects have been killed in police operations (from July 1, 2016 to May 15, 2018), data from the Philippine National Police showed.

7. 'TOKHANG' RELOADED

Even before being elected as the country's leader, Duterte already warned of a bloody crackdown on illegal drugs--a campaign promise that he has kept, drawing much criticism from rights advocates and foreign governments over a rising death toll.

Two years on, a total of 4,279 drug suspects have been killed in police operations (from July 1, 2016 to May 15, 2018), data from the Philippine National Police showed.

8. VP LENI ROBREDO: FROM CABINET MEMBER TO OPPOSITION LEADER

They were not exactly the best of friends to start with given their separate inaugurations in 2016. But President Rodrigo Duterte still made opposition Liberal Party stalwart Vice President Leni Robredo a part of his administration, at least initially.

Duterte offered Robredo the job of housing chief after the two warmed up to each other after the elections. But just five months later, the vice president left the Cabinet after she was barred from attending its meetings following policy differences.

Amid criticism and at times low blows from Duterte supporters, Robredo has been vocal in criticizing the President's policies and, most recently, said she was willing to lead the "united opposition."

8. VP LENI ROBREDO: FROM CABINET MEMBER TO OPPOSITION LEADER

They were not exactly the best of friends to start with given their separate inaugurations in 2016. But President Rodrigo Duterte still made opposition Liberal Party stalwart Vice President Leni Robredo a part of his administration, at least initially.

Duterte offered Robredo the job of housing chief after the two warmed up to each other after the elections. But just five months later, the vice president left the Cabinet after she was barred from attending its meetings following policy differences.

Amid criticism and at times low blows from Duterte supporters, Robredo has been vocal in criticizing the President's policies and, most recently, said she was willing to lead the "united opposition."

9. RECORD PERSONAL-LOW SATISFACTION RATING

Duterte began his presidency with a "very good" net satisfaction rating of +64, common for leaders who are still in what analysts call the honeymoon period.

Two years into his presidency, satisfaction with the President's performance has dropped to a "good" +45 rating, his lowest to date.

9. RECORD PERSONAL-LOW SATISFACTION RATING

Duterte began his presidency with a "very good" net satisfaction rating of +64, common for leaders who are still in what analysts call the honeymoon period.

Two years into his presidency, satisfaction with the President's performance has dropped to a "good" +45 rating, his lowest to date.

10. SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

The start of the Duterte administration also ushered in what officials often tout as a new era in relations between the Philippines and China.

The President's friendlier stance towards the Chinese signaled a reboot of ties between Manila and Beijing long strained by the unresolved South China Sea dispute.

While Duterte has chosen not to invoke Manila's international arbitration victory against China over its wide claims in the disputed waters, Beijing has ramped up its island-building and militarization activities in the South China Sea.

Amid questions and criticism of Duterte's ties with China, the Philippine government earlier this year bared that it has been quietly taking "diplomatic actions" against Beijing's incursions into the country's exclusive economic zone.

10. SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

The start of the Duterte administration also ushered in what officials often tout as a new era in relations between the Philippines and China.

The President's friendlier stance towards the Chinese signaled a reboot of ties between Manila and Beijing long strained by the unresolved South China Sea dispute.

While Duterte has chosen not to invoke Manila's international arbitration victory against China over its wide claims in the disputed waters, Beijing has ramped up its island-building and militarization activities in the South China Sea.

Amid questions and criticism of Duterte's ties with China, the Philippine government earlier this year bared that it has been quietly taking "diplomatic actions" against Beijing's incursions into the country's exclusive economic zone.