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[Y-SPACE] Five years of clownery: Duterte’s broken promises to Filipinos

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

by Mhicole Moral

President Rodrigo Duterte has addressed the nation on July 26 before his term expires in 2022. After five years since assuming the position, Duterte seems to have forgotten the promises he made during his campaign.

“Change is coming,” he said. Did the President really vow on this mantra?

Drug War

“If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I'll kill you,” said Duterte on the day of his election victory.

President Duterte is vocal on his most famous campaign promise: to end drugs in 3 to 6 months. His campaign gave birth to a state-sponsored murder, also known as the war on drugs.

Kian delos Santos, a 17-year-old student, was fatally shot by police officers during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan on August 16, 2017. This matter became contentious when official police reports clashed with the witness' testimony and the CCTV footage.

19-year-old Carl Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo "Kulot" De Guzman went missing in their home at Cainta, Rizal, two days after delos Santos was killed. According to the police, Arnaiz pulled a pistol to rob a taxi driver, so two policemen returned fire and killed the teenager. However, the witness claims that another taxi approached and reported the robbery. The remains of Arnaiz and De Guzman were subsequently discovered. Arnaiz has been shot by police, while de Guzman was stabbed 30 times and recovered in a stream in Nueva Ecija.

The Duterte government is allegedly underreporting the 'official count' of deaths in its anti-drug campaign.

The war on drugs of his administration is subject to potential investigation by the International Criminal Court. However, Duterte taunts the ICC that his government will not cooperate with them.


Following the so-called anti-drug campaign, Duterte has vowed to end criminality in the Philippines during his presidential campaign. However, the President is famous for ordering the uniformed men and civilians to kill individuals who go against his plans.

In less than two months after his inauguration, Duterte has issued a shoot-to-kill order against elected officials involved in drugs. He also proactively criticized the Catholic church and threatened to cut off the head of a bishop. On April 1, 2020, Duterte ordered uniformed personnel to kill quarantine violators in a televised address. Few days after his threat, a retired soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder was gunned down by a policeman near a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City. On the other hand, some government officials who beached the quarantine were given ‘compassion’ by the administration.

Meanwhile, a masked gunman shot and killed a thirteen-year-old near a slaughterhouse in Tondo, Manila in March 2018. His friend witnessed the shooting incident and released a statement to the police that the assailant was wearing a white shirt and ‘police pants.’ Three days after the incident, a policeman surrendered in the custody of the Manila Police District and claimed responsibility for the child’s death. He is Aldrin Pineda, an elementary student who dreamed of becoming a policeman someday.

Throughout his term, a bloodbath was seen on the streets across the country. The President’s support to kill civilians without due process makes the Philippines no longer safe for everyone, especially our children.


When Duterte was a candidate, corruption is one of the issues he wants to eliminate within the first six months of his term.

The decisions of the President seem to contradict his ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption as government employees suspected of corruption have been reappointed, promoted, or kept in the position by Duterte.

The establishment of a duplicated anti-corruption task group by Duterte in 2020 was his most significant anti-corruption measure. However, no charges have been brought against the alleged corrupt offices as of writing.

Duterte also refused to disclose his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth which he himself tainted his promise to stop corruption. According to Republic Act No. 6713, the public has the right to know about officials’ assets, liabilities, net worth, and financial and business interests of public officials, including the President. Significantly, the Ombudsman has created new rules on receiving a copy of SALNs in 2020, making it a shield for Duterte to avoid releasing his SALN.

At least, all he has to brag about is the dismissal of his few officials.

Carrying his unrealistic campaign promises, Duterte has ‘changed’ the Philippines from a democracy-loving country into a den of a weak strongman with no plan. Duterte sought to address the issues of his broken promises by launching vicious attacks on critics, activists, media outlets, and civilians while pampering his allies.

“Tapang at Malasakit,” said the President who proudly wasted his term blindly believing that he fulfilled his promises. Filipinos, on the other hand, are living just to suffer the consequences of Duterte’s shortcomings as a leader. How can the government improve its performance if it refuses to acknowledge its own ineptitude and evades accountability?

‘Change is coming’ or ‘Change scamming’?

Mhicole Moral, 21, is a Communication student of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

YSPACE is a platform open for young writers to contribute their worth-sharing thoughts and stories to the world. It is a space for young people and by the young people which aims to promote a strong sense of empowerment and inspiration to young Filipinos.

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