MANILA - "It's been a great four years."
Malacañang on Thursday trumpeted the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte as he marked the fourth year of his presidency this week.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines was one of the "best performing" economies in the world, which could be attested by the record credit ratings of the country, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
"It’s been a great four years. Mayroon po tayong pagsubok pero dahil mayroon po tayong very sound fundamentals, makakaahon din po tayo dito sa pagsubok ng COVID-19," he said in a Palace press briefing.
(We have challenges but we have very sound fundamentals. We can rise from the COVID-19 challenge.)
"It was actually a great performance as far as the economy is concerned," Roque added.
The President's penultimate year in power, however, faces great economic uncertainty as analysts predict a recession and more job losses.
For the first time since 1998, the Philippine economy shrank in the January-to-March period due to the pandemic. In April, government data showed that there were 7.3 million jobless Filipinos, which could further balloon as the coronavirus crisis threatens more businesses.
A Social Weather Stations survey released last month also showed that a record-high number of Filipinos are pessimistic about their quality of life as the coronavirus pandemic left millions jobless and businesses struggling to survive.
Some 43 percent of Filipinos polled in May said they expected their quality of life to worsen in the next 12 months.
"Unfortunately, tinamaan po tayo ng pandemya. Pero sang-ayon po sa mga survey din ay talagang overwhelming majority ng ating mga kababayan suportado naman po ang mga aksiyon na ginawa ng ating Presidente," Roque said.
(Unfortunately, we were hit by a pandemic. But surveys show that many Filipinos approve of the President's actions.)
Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016, becoming the oldest and first Philippine leader to come from Mindanao. He won on a promise of change to curb corruption in government and a bloody war on drugs.
While Duterte has repeatedly been criticized for his off-the-cuff remarks and accused of misogyny and enabling killings, he has enjoyed high public satisfaction ratings throughout his presidency so far.
"Approved po ang taumbayan sa mga ginagawa ng Presidente kasama na rin po diyan iyong kampanya laban sa pinagbabawal na droga," he added.
(The public approves the President's actions including his campaign against illegal drugs.)
A United Nations report last month found that there was "near impunity" in the Philippines' war on drugs, which it said has been marked by police orders and high-level rhetoric that may have been interpreted as "permission to kill."
The Duterte administration has repeatedly defended its anti-drug campaign, saying those slain in operations had violently resisted arrest, making it necessary for police to defend themselves.