Monday, August 8, 2022

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The Duterte administration comes to an end in two days. Inasmuch as Firing Line had repeatedly criticized errant policies and decisions often verbalized by the President in “gutter speak” over the last six years, his graceful exit in abidance of the Constitution is much appreciated.

 Although there is a contemptuous desire in my gut to say “good riddance,” looking forward to Bongbong Marcos as his successor tempers my bidding to a muted “farewell.” I pray I am mistaken, but it does feel like being handed to the wolves all over again.

Nevertheless, there are several issues I’m glad to have been tied up, clarified, or even resolved in the fading days of Duterte’s rule.

First, in terms of pandemic response, the Department of Health – however led by a secretary embroiled in an overdose of corruption – has made it clear that it has been guided by science and evidence in crafting public policies and solutions to battle COVID-19. Also, the sufficiency of vaccines for Filipinos cannot be denied.

Regarding the Philippines’ relations with China, Duterte did us all good by “terminating completely” negotiations for joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

On record, our Department of Foreign Affairs has also protested Beijing’s every act of maritime aggression against Manila. Outgoing DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. swears that Mr. Duterte – who in many words has hailed Xi Jinping as his “bestie” – never conceded any bit of sovereignty to China. In his own words, Locsin says: “We have not surrendered a single inch of territory or a drop of our waters. Not by word or deed have we weakened our right to everything in the West Philippine Sea.”

On infrastructure development, it’s undeniable that we have not seen such a big spender in this regard. We only hope that these investments in the tab of the Filipino people will be as successful and beneficial as the very few that have so far been completed. I will have to applaud Duterte’s reopening of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Lucena-San Pablo Commuter Line in San Pablo City, Laguna, last week.

Firing Line’s friends in the uniformed services also owe this outgoing administration a load of thanks for upgrading their salaries and retirement benefits and forging on with modernization, which were just displayed as drawing boards for the military to drool over the past administrations.

In Line with that, Marcos Jr. also owes his predecessor the greater peace now enjoyed in once rebellion-torn provinces and regions that were also vulnerable to warlords. Except for the brutal war on drugs. It did come at a hefty and bloody price of human rights – but the next president won’t be inheriting the blame for that because the DDS lord takes it all with him as he steps down. Goodbye, Citizen Digong.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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