President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday thanked former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano, and the people of Taguig City for their hard work in helping him win the presidency in 2016.
“Una sa lahat magpasalamat ako sa inyo mga taga-Taguig, and of course sina Lani pati si Alan Peter, kasi kayo ang gumawa para maging Presidente ako,” Duterte said to the large crowd that had gathered for a concert rally in support of the former Speaker’s bid for a return to the Senate.
“Ngayon matatapos na ang termino ko at nandito ako ulit. Talagang alam ko na tinulungan ninyo ako,” he added.
The President had made a surprise appearance at the concert rally to support the candidacy of Cayetano, who was his running mate in the 2016 national elections.
Duterte arrived in the middle of the concert along with the Cayetanos and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
It was the one of the rare times the President attended a political rally for a single national candidate and with no presidential bet present.
In his introduction, the former Speaker said one of the President’s favorite Bible passages is Ecclesiastes 3, which says there is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
He said while the passage says there is a “time to tear down and build,” he is glad the President used his six years as President to “build build build” the lives of the Filipino people — a reference to the Duterte administration’s signature infrastructure program.
For his part, the President said he had fulfilled many of the campaign promises he and Cayetano had made six years ago, particularly those related to education and healthcare.
“Wala akong masyadong ipinangako. Sabi ko, edukasyon. Ngayon nandyan na ang batas para sa pag-aaral sa tertiary (level). Tapos na,” he said, referring to the the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or Republic Act 10931.
This law makes education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local universities and colleges (LUCs) in the country free for all qualified students as it institutionalizes free tuition and exemption from other fees.
Duterte also said his promise of better health care for all was fulfilled in Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, which he signed in February 2019.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), among the salient features of this law are “the expansion of population, service, and financial coverage through an array of health system amendments.”
“Along with this is a planned paradigm shift to primary care, which is the core and center of all health reforms under the UHC,” the DOH adds.
Duterte also pointed to the Malasakit Center Act or R.A. 11463 which obliges the government to establish Malasakit Centers in all hospitals under the Department of Health and the Philippine General Hospital. The program was the brainchild of Senator Go when he was still Special Assistant to the President and which he filed in the Senate.
“Sabi ko sa inyo, ospital. Nandyan na ang mga Malasakit Center. Kay Bong Go y’on. Noon kasi, pag may reseta ka sa doktor, pupunta ka pa kung saan saan. Kung wala kang pera, uutang ka. Ngayon nandyan sa ospital na mismo, maraming tables diyan (na tutulong sa iyo),” he said.
The law mandates the establishment of a one-stop-shop where indigent patients and their families can access financial and medical assistance from government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Department of Migrant Workers
Another campaign promise of the Duterte-Cayetano tandem that has been fulfilled is the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Act, which the President signed in December 2021.
The DMW will absorb the current OFW-related functions of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) National Reintegration Center, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) International Social Services Office, and the Office of the President’s Commission on Filipino Overseas.
Cayetano had filed Senate Bill No. 1435 in 2017 for the creation of a single department that would address the many issues and concerns overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families face on a regular basis.
While that bill did not make it to law, Cayetano filed it again in the House of Representatives in 2019 and finally led its passing as House Bill No. 5832 in March 2020 when he was Speaker.
The bill aimed to create a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Foreign Employment — a single agency that would focus solely on the concerns of OFWs.
Cayetano thanked the President for signing the DMW Act on December 30, 2021, saying it ushers in a new era for overseas Filipinos who have sacrificed much to be able to provide for the families and to keep the country’s economy going through the decades.
Grateful to Taguigeños
As he closed his speech, the President thanked the residents of Taguig for helping him win the Presidency and for supporting him through his six-year term.
“Ako naniniwala talaga ako sa destiny. Noong nanalo ako hindi ko talaga alam kung bakit ako naging presidente,” he said.
Repeating Cayetano’s introduction, he said, “There is always a time for everything.”
He said while he had reached the pinnacle of his success as a public servant, he knows the time will soon come that he will bow out of the public eye.
“Kayong mga taga-Taguig lahat, maraming maraming salamat po,” he said.