Duterte’s Sona promises revisited

(Third of a series)

The Inquirer continues its review of how the Duterte administration has fared in meeting the goals set by the President five years since his first State of the Nation Address (Sona).

More from his first Sona, delivered on July 25, 2016:

  • Provide rice subsidies to the poorest families

In March 2017, the Department of Social Welfare and Development rolled out rice subsidies to households covered by Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Each compliant household is entitled to receive a monthly rice subsidy of P600.

Under the 2021 budget, around P29 billion of the P106.8-billion budget for 4Ps was allotted for the rice subsidies of around 4.4 million family beneficiaries. The allocated amount is lower than the P108.8- billion 4Ps budget in 2020, of which P31 billion was earmarked for the subsidy.

  • Lengthen the validity of passports from five years to 10 years, open additional consular offices

In August 2017, just a year after his first Sona, Mr. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10928, which extended the validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued the implementing rules and regulations for the law in October 2017 and they took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Also in October 2017, the President issued an executive order (EO) reorganizing the field offices of the DFA consular affairs unit and laid out guidelines on opening additional consular offices. According to a directory on the DFA website, there are 36 consular offices around the country as of July, up from 27 when Mr. Duterte issued the EO.

In January 2018, the DFA also launched its Passport on Wheels program by going to offices, hospitals, subdivisions and schools nationwide to serve applicants. Earlier this month, the DFA launched temporary off-site passport services in six locations, with more to be opened soon, to deal with the passport service backlogs caused by the pandemic.

  • Streamline case investigation processes to address court backlogs

In August 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a circular providing guidelines on streamlining and improving the processes in the front-line services of the National Prosecution Service (NPS).

According to the latest DOJ annual report, the NPS resolved 387,788 complaints for preliminary investigation out of the 428,535 complaints it handled in 2019, for a disposition rate of 90.49 percent, up from 87.23 percent in 2016. The percentage of aging complaints pending resolution went down from 49.8 percent in 2016 to 31.1 percent in 2019.

The National Justice Information System, a tool that facilitates the management and exchange of information across law enforcement and justice sector agencies, was allotted P5 million under the DOJ’s 2021 budget.ADVERTISEMENT

  • Enact the whistleblower protection law, strengthen the witness protection program

Since 2019, nine bills on whistleblower protection have been filed at the House, where they are all still pending at the justice committee. The three related bills are pending in the Senate, also at the committee level, since 2019.

  • Hire more lawyers and staff for the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO)

PAO’s manpower stands at 3,278 this year, including 1,300 public attorneys ranked I to IV. In 2016, the agency had a total personnel of 2,546, with only about 900 public attorneys II to V.

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