Regardless of the results of the 2019 midterm elections, Rodrigo Duterte should now look forward to building his legacy as the President of the Philippines by fulfilling most or, if not, all of the promises that he made in 2016.
In less than 30 days, Filipinos will again head to the polling stations to vote for key national and local positions. Some describe this year’s midterm election as a referendum on the leadership of President Duterte and his administration, even up to a point of calling it a "dress rehearsal" for 2022. The results of the May 13, 2019 polls may, more or less, define the direction that the country will be taking from
now until 2022.
Frankly speaking, there are still a lot of things that need to be done by the Duterte administration, especially when it comes to pursuing long overdue and badly needed reform measures. So far, it is only the first phase of tax reform and the initial stage of the "Build! Build! Build" infrastructure-building project that have been accomplished, with both them moving too slow that a snail travels faster. Too much politicking, especially from the liberals, Communists, Magdalo, the political and economic oligarchy, the Roman Catholic Church, a seemingly hostile Congress, the heavily partisan press, and differences from the President's own allies, is proving to be too much of a roadblock in the pursuit of reforms that are necessary to realize the Philippines' potential for economic success; and realizing the goal of bringing development to all corners of the nation by lifting many out of poverty through new job and business opportunities as a result of a more open economy.
With time not on his side, President Duterte himself must now become more active in the pursuit of reform. Filipinos are expecting more from him during the second half of his six-year tenure. He has yet to deliver to on his promised reforms way back during the election campaign in 2016, something that could define his legacy as the nation's leader. Becoming more active means that he has to overcome the deterrents mentioned earlier, even up to a point of taking courses of action or decisions that are radical but necessary for the good of the nation.
Recent developments involving the water crisis on some parts of Metro Manila, the still substandard but overly expensive Internet and telecommunications products and services being offered to consumers, threats of rotating power outages due to an increase in demand for electricity, and the need to address both food security concerns and modernization of the agriculture sector should be more than enough motivation for President Duterte to act now and pursue all of his promised political and economic reform measures before he steps down from office in 2022. The country badly needs the implementation of economic reforms, especially removing barriers to increasing foreign direct investment and the empowerment of small businesses, to address those immediate concerns and develop the plans that will set the economic development plans and goals on the more long-term basis. Political reforms, especially the shift from the current problematic presidential system to the more streamlined and more efficient parliamentary system, and the eventual move from unitary to federal, are needed to ensure continuity and consistency in formulating and implementing policies, programs and plans on both the national and the local scales.
Regardless of the results of the 2019 midterm elections, Rodrigo Duterte should now look forward to building his legacy as the President of the Philippines by fulfilling most or, if not, all of the promises that he made in 2016. He has three more years to get things done, especially at this point time when he enjoys high trust, approval and net satisfaction ratings, and support from the majority of Filipinos. With him being a man who focus more on results than talk, I believe that he will be able to fulfill almost everything between now and 2022, and leave office with a lasting and positive legacy.