THE Philippines can withstand the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic because of its strong economic fundamentals, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.
In his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte said the country received a BBB plus credit rating despite the credit rating downgrades and negative outlook revisions worldwide.
“The Japan Credit Rating Agency upgraded us from BBB plus to A minus last month, President Duterte said in his speech at the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
“Our fiscal position is strong, our economic and fiscal management prudent and our banking system robust. We are in a better position to weather the crisis caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” he said.
The President also reported the achievements posted by his administration in the past few years.
According to President Duterte, more than 9.2 million beneficiaries received subsidies under the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program alone while over 4.3 million poor families benefitted through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
He said Filipino youth were also given an opportunity to pursue free higher education through the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law while public utility drivers were given assistance through the Pantawid Pasada Program.
The Chief Executive added that the country’s improved healthcare system has greatly benefited residents. In particular, the Universal Health Care Law has given Filipinos access to affordable and quality healthcare services and benefits.
He cited the Malasakit Centers Act, which he said has “proven to be of great help” for poor citizens needing medical services through a one-stop platform in government hospitals.
“As of today, there are 75 Malasakit Centers serving Filipinos all over the country. These centers will be of great help in ensuring that our people remain healthy and resilient during these challenging times,” the President said.
State workers also benefited from the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, the President said, hoping the law could “inspire our government workers to perform better and encourage young, brilliant citizens to join public service.”
He also said the government provided protection and support to the business community through the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.
At the same time, frontline processes including consular services, processing of building and business permits, and services for overseas Filipinos and seafarers were streamlined and passports and drivers’ license validity were lengthened to ease the burden of the public, the President said.
Also during his SONA, President Duterte made a renewed call to Filipinos to overcome the current health crisis through solidarity and unity, saying the pandemic has tested the country “as a people and as a nation”.
“I do hope that this spirit of solidarity and unity will serve as the drumbeat to which we shall march in unison in our quest for the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, calling on every Filipino to look out for each other’s welfare.
“I appeal to each and every Filipino, let us take care of one another. Ito ang panahon para magtulungan. Let us share our blessings with those who have little and those who have none. This is the time to bring out the best in us,” he said.
“The government cannot do this without your help. More than ever, we need to reinvigorate the deep-seated Filipino spirit of pakisama and malasakit within each and everyone of us.” PNA