SONA 2020 Promise Tracker: Social services

Find out how Duterte fared in other sectors

Of the seven remaining priority bills on social services mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his previous State of the Nation Addresses, not a single one has been passed by Congress.

Measures creating a Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control, a Department of Overseas Filipinos, and a Medical Reserves Corps, as well as those amending existing laws concerning national housing, solo parents, and professional workers in the country, all remain pending in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

The proposed Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act could have been passed last June if not for a provision that had been rejected but reappeared in the bicameral committee report. The report was sent back to the committee level for further deliberations.

Despite the lack of progress on these bills, the Duterte administration managed to carry out a number of programs that provided assistance to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), more than 17.6 million low-income families benefited from the first tranche of cash subsidies distributed under Bayanihan 1 amounting to around P99 billion. Payout for the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) is still ongoing and is targeted to be completed by the end of July 2021.

At least five programs dedicated to repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) were also launched since June last year. Tabang OFW and Project EASE both offer cash assistance to student dependents of OFWs, while Agri-Negosyo Para sa OFWs, TESDA Abot Lahat Ang OFWs, and OFW RISE focus on the reintegration of returning OFWs by providing them with free online skills training on agri-business and entrepreneurship.

Here’s how Duterte fared in his other promises related to social services:

On social assistance and poverty reduction

PROMISE: Improve the implementation of SAP

“Admittedly, our implementation of the Social Amelioration Program was not perfect. And some opportunists turned crisis into opportunity. We will catch up with you sooner than you think.” (2020)


Under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act (Bayanihan 1) passed into law on March 25 last year, approximately 18 million low-income families would be provided with a cash subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 per month for two months.

Based on DSWD data obtained by VERA Files, P99 billion was disbursed for the first tranche of the SAP covering more than 17.6 million families.

The distribution of the second tranche is still ongoing, despite the expiration of the law in June last year. As of July 11, P89.8 billion had already been disbursed to 14.2 million families. DSWD said it is targeting to finish payouts by the end of the month.

Families who were qualified for the SAP but did not receive any cash assistance and low-income families in areas under granular lockdown were the target of a separate emergency subsidy program under RA 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

According to DSWD, the following received their emergency subsidies under Bayanihan 2 as of July 11:

  • 519,973 families that were not covered by Bayanihan 1;
  • 103,677 families in places under granular lockdown; and
  • 93,727 families under DSWD’s Livelihood Assistance Grants

Also in March this year, Duterte approved the release of P22.8 billion to be distributed to 22.9 million individuals living inside the NCR+ bubble, which included cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal. Allocation for this came from the Bayanihan 2 fund and the 2021 National Budget.

As of May 27, distribution of the NCR+ cash assistance was “substantially complete at 99.6 percent”, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Bayanihan 2 expired on June 30, after being extended from its initial December 2020 deadline. The law’s expiry left P6.49 billion unused funds, as stated in a text message sent by Budget and Management Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo to GMA News early this month.

On June 1, the Lower House passed on third reading House Bill No. 9411 or the “Bayanihan to Arise as One Act” (Bayanihan 3), which provides cash assistance of P2,000 to all 108 million Filipinos. However, a counterpart bill in the Senate remains pending at the committee level.

PROMISE: Ensure that PUV drivers receive financial aid

“Public utility drivers were given assistance through the Pantawid Pasada Program. There are complaints that some drivers did not receive any assistance at all. I have directed the DSWD and DILG to look into this.” (2020)


According to a June 29 Facebook post by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), more than 90,000 operators of Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) already received cash assistance under its Direct Cash Subsidy Program.

The operators are responsible for distributing P6,500 subsidy to the PUV units covered by their franchise.

LTFRB said P1.025 billion — or 96.67 percent of the program’s total allotment under Bayanihan 2 — has already been disbursed to 157,758 of the 178,244 targeted PUV units.

PROMISE: Remove six million Filipinos from poverty

“Poverty incidence fell from 27.6 percent in the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the first half of 2018. The most important number, though, is the six million Filipinos we need to pull out from poverty. Kindly help me on this.” (2019)


In January 2021, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said six million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty in 2018 — a target initially set for 2022.

This number is still based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data on poverty released in December 2019. Filipinos living below the poverty threshold decreased from 23.5 million in 2015 to 17.6 million in 2018.

But the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted in the updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP) that what the country had achieved in terms of reducing poverty would "not be sustained from 2018 to 2021" because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It set the poverty incidence target for 2021 to 15.5 to 17.5 percent although the number had already reached 16.7 percent in 2018.

Additionally, the “more ambitious target” of 11 percent poverty incidence for 2022 set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) in 2018, is “obviously no longer obtain[able],” the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) told VERA Files in an email.

However, both NEDA and NAPC maintain that the original 14 percent target for 2022 “is still achievable.”

The next Family Income and Expenditure Survey of the PSA, which will provide the latest data on the country’s poverty incidence, will be out in October 2022.

Meanwhile, a national survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations from April 28 to May 2 this year found that five in ten Filipino families consider themselves poor. Only 17 percent see themselves as “not poor,” while 33 percent put themselves midway between the two categories.

On health

PROMISE: Increase healthcare access by deploying 20,000 healthcare workers

In 2021, we aim to increase access to healthcare services by continuously hiring and deploying more than 20,000 health professionals. This will augment health workforce in the LGUs, particularly in isolated and disadvantaged areas. We will implement projects to establish and improve Barangay Health Stations, Rural Health Units, and other healthcare facilities.” (2020)


Latest available data from the Department of Health (DOH) — sent to VERA Files by its Health Human Resource Development Bureau (HHRDB) — show that as of December 2020, the country had 190,367 healthcare workers (HCWs) with active licenses.

This is an increase of a mere 1,163 from the recorded 189,204 HCWs in 2019.

Of the 2020 number, over 67,500 work in public hospitals, while 25,600 were deployed by the DOH in primary health care facilities. About 30,600 were hired by local government units (LGUs) for their own facilities, and the remaining 66,500 were employed in private hospitals.

In an April 5 press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said the government had already hired over 7,000 HCWs since 2020.

She added that emergency hiring of HCWs was ongoing and the DOH had already provided hospitals with their needed funding for direct hiring.

She admitted, however, that “not many healthcare workers are heeding the call” to serve in hospitals.

Various HCW groups, including Filipino Nurses United and the Alliance of Health Workers, have been advocating the mass hiring of HCWs by the government. They are also continuously appealing for the release of their benefits, including their Special Risk Allowance and their COVID-19 hazard pay.

As for healthcare facilities, data obtained by VERA Files from the Health Facility Development Bureau (HFDB) show more than 600 Barangay Health Stations were established in 2020. From 22,613 stations in 2019, the number rose to 23,276 the following year.

On the other hand, no new Rural Health Unit was recorded in 2020. In fact, the number was down by two last year compared to 2019. The HFDB attributed this decrease to the “removal of duplicates” in its database.

PROMISE: Establish a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority

“COVID-19 will not only be the last pandemic. We need to create a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to better respond to future outbreaks. We count on Congress‘ full support. You can just let it remain for a while in the Department of Health kung wala pang pera but you have to expand the services or it will also entail a little bit of money but not really as much as expensive when you set up a department. In the long term, we are looking into the creation of the National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to better prepare for pandemics, protect lives, and allow development to proceed even in the worst of times. We are counting on the full support of Congress for this critically important endeavor. I don‘t know but I‘ll leave it to Congress to really… It‘s another department. There seems that it could be a multilayer redundant thing between the health and the proposed department.” (2020)


Last March, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), in its Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) for the 18th Congress, listed the “Disease Prevention and Control Authority Act” as one of the 12 priority bills targeted to be passed by June 2021.

But House Bill (HB) No. 9560, which will pave the way for the creation of a “Philippine Center For Disease Prevention And Control (CDC)”, remains pending after it was approved on second reading last June 2.

If actualized, the Center will be mandated to determine the parameters for the declaration of a start or an end of a pandemic, among its other functions.

HB 9560 substituted 13 other House bills pushing for the same measure.

Its four counterparts in the Senate are all at the committee level. The latest one, Senate Bill (SB) No. 2158, was filed just last May 17 by Sen. Bong Go. The other three have been pending since May last year.

PROMISE: Create a Medical Reserve Corps

Now is the time to pass the ... law instituting the Medical Reserve Corps.” (2020)


Another measure tagged as a priority was the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Act which was passed by the House but remains pending at the committee level in the Senate.

HB 8999, which consolidates 13 different proposed bills, creates an MRC composed of licensed health professionals — both active and retired — as well as medical students who should always be ready to respond “in times of public health emergencies or health threats”.

The bill was approved by the House on third reading last March 25 and transmitted to the Senate on April 12. It has only been passed on first reading and referred to the concerned committee since.

There are three other versions of the MRC Act, all of which have already been heard in joint committee meetings, at the Senate. On July 19, a Technical Working Group formed by the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and the Committee on Finance discussed the three bills.

PROMISE: Deploy healthcare workers in all barangays

“Additional benefits for solo parents, the assignment of health workers in all barangays, and the expansion of the Malasakit Centers, are what we also hope to achieve through the bills filed by the original concept of Bong Go. Para manalo sa kampanya, ‘yon ang mantra niya. Totohanin mo lang, Bong, mapahiya tayong lahat.” (2019)


Breakdown of available data on the number of deployed HCWs in different parts of the country only goes down to the level of cities and municipalities.

While all cities and municipalities in the country had at least one healthcare worker in 2020, 320 had no recorded physician, and two had no nurse.

Two municipalities — General Nakar in Quezon Province and Ungkaya Pukan in Basilan — had only one HCW each, according to the HHRDB tally.

Despite this, the DOH said it still stands by the statement it made in July last year to VERA Files claiming that all 42,046 barangays in the country had “at least one health worker.”

PROMISE: Provide more benefits to solo parents

Additional benefits for solo parents, the assignment of health workers in all barangays, and the expansion of the Malasakit Centers, are what we also hope to achieve through the bills filed by the original concept of Bong Go. Para manalo sa kampanya, ‘yon ang mantra niya. Totohanin mo lang, Bong, mapahiya tayong lahat.” (2019)


Although it was approved on final reading by the House as early as January this year, HB 8097 granting additional benefits to solo parents remains pending at the committee level in the Senate.

Even the upper chamber’s version of the bill has seen minimal progress in the last year. The last action conducted on SB No. 1411, or the Expanded Solo Welfare Act, was the Oct. 5, 2020 letter from Sen. Leila De Lima expressing her intention to be a co-author of the bill.

When passed into law, SB No. 1411 will amend the existing Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 by providing additional benefits to single parents such as access to counseling and legal assistance, employment and livelihood programs, and scholarship opportunities for solo parents and their children.

The Expanded Solo Welfare Act was listed by the LEDAC in the CLA as one of the 13 bills targeted to be made into law by the end of the year.

On assistance to OFWs

PROMISE: Establish a Department of Overseas Filipinos

“And this one, I strongly urge Congress to pass a law establishing the Department of Overseas Filipinos [focused] solely on addressing the concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families.” (2020)

“To ensure their welfare, protection and their access to government services, the establishment of the Department of Overseas Filipinos will sufficiently address this particular need.” (2019)


On May 28, Duterte certified as urgent SB No. 2234, or the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act. It is pending on second reading in the Senate.

In March last year, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading its version of SB 2234. HB 5832, a bill substituting 39 other measures, creates a department under the Executive branch that will “protect the rights and promote the welfare” of Filipino workers in other countries.

PROMISE: Come up with agri-business projects for displaced OFWs

I direct the Department of Agriculture and DTI to come up with agri-business and entrepreneurship projects to help displaced OFWs rebuild their livelihood.” (2020)


In November last year, five government agencies including the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) signed a joint memorandum circular creating programs that will offer new livelihood opportunities, specifically in agri-business, to repatriated OFWs.

Around four months later, the Agri-Negosyo Para sa OFWs was officially launched. Through the program, OFWs who were forced out of their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic can learn skills related to agri-business such as drafting a business plan and setting up their own venture in this sector.

The program was initially introduced in Regions I, III, IV-A, VI and VII, the five pilot regions where provinces with the most recorded repatriated OFWs are situated.

PROMISE: Provide scholarship programs for OFW dependents

I am also calling on the CHED for scholarship programs for the qualified dependents of our OFWs.” (2020)


Tabang OFW”, a program that provides a one-time cash assistance worth P30,000 to eligible college students who are dependents of repatriated OFWs, was launched by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education in September last year.

With its P1 billion budget, Tabang OFW is expected to assist in the education expenses of over 30,000 beneficiaries.

Also last year, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) inaugurated Project Educational Assistance through Scholarship in Emergencies or Project EASE. This offers dependents of OWWA members an annual financial assistance of P10,000 for a maximum of four years.

Both programs are being rolled out. As of March 27, around 10,000 OFW dependents already benefited from Tabang OFW. Just last June 16, 41 students from Northern Cebu received cash aid under Tabang OFW, Project EASE, and DOLE-AKAP for OFWs.

PROMISE: Create TESDA training programs for returning OFWs

I ask the TESDA to come up with special training programs to retool our OFWs so they can find employment opportunities here at home.” (2020)


Two projects offering free skills training programs to returning OFWs were launched by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) last year.

The first one, “TESDA Abot Lahat Ang OFWs,” was launched in June, even before Duterte made the pronouncement in his 2020 SONA. As of Feb. 22, over 31,400 of the 99,700 OFWs and their dependents who signed up for TESDA’s online program already completed their respective courses.

The second project called the OFW Reintegration through Skills and Entrepreneurship or the OFW RISE Program was launched in November last year. This is a four-hour online course which aims to arm OFWs with knowledge on basic entrepreneurship that could help them actualize their own business ideas.

On labor

PROMISE: Amend the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016

I also call on Congress to amend Republic Act No. 10912 [or] the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016. In this time of great pandemic and forthcoming reconstruction, requiring our professionals to undergo seminars is burdensome and not realistic. This must end.” (2020)


Despite being tagged as a priority measure by LEDAC, the passage of a bill amending the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016 still hangs uncertain in both houses of Congress.

HB 09311 was included in the Calendar for Ordinary Business of the Lower House last May 18.

Its five counterpart Senate bills are all still pending at the committee level. Three have seen no progress since 2019, one has been pending since January 2020, and the remaining bill was last updated in August last year.

PROMISE: Prevent, reduce, and eliminate child labor

“Part of our efforts to uphold human rights is protection of the rights of children and the right against discrimination. Early last year, I signed Executive Order No. 92 creating the National Council Against Child Labor. Government efforts to protect the rights of children will be amplified to prevent, reduce and eliminate any form of child labor.” (2020)


In an email to VERA Files, Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, director of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, said 69,291 children have been rescued from illegal labor from 2017 to June 2021 through the initiative of DOLE, DSWD, and the International Labour Organization.

Perida-Trayvilla admitted that this number is still “far behind” the government’s initial target of 630,000 by 2022, and very far from the “zero child labor” goal set by NEDA in the updated PDP 2017-2022.

The 630,000 figure only accounts for 30 percent of the total 2.097 million child laborers identified in PSA’s 2011 Survey on Children.

Perida-Trayvilla also noted how the COVID-19 pandemic added more challenges to the effort of eliminating child labor in the country. Restrictions brought by the health crisis did not only push more into poverty — which could have led to the rise in the number of child laborers — but have also made it difficult for authorities to visit communities and monitor cases of child labor.

PROMISE: Pass a law prohibiting labor contractualization
“That is why I add mine to their voices in asking Congress to pass legislation ending the practice of contractualization once and for all.” (2018)


When Duterte was campaigning for the 2016 national elections, he made a powerful promise that earned him loud cheers and applause from the crowds: that the moment he became President, “contractualization will stop.”

Come July 2019, however, the President vetoed the bill that could have been the actualization of his promise. Duterte said the proposed measure “unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting.” He added that “legitimate job contracting should be allowed” and that businesses should be “free to engage” in practices they deem “beneficial” to them and their workers.

A year before Duterte’s presidency ends, the fulfillment of his promise against labor contractualization remains far-fetched.

The House of Representatives has already approved on final reading HB 7036 or the Security of Tenure Act, and HB 8140 or the Media Workers Welfare Act. Both have been pending at the committee level in the Senate since December 2020 and January this year, respectively.

Twenty other House bills and six more in the Senate on the security of tenure of employees in different levels of the government remain pending at the committee level.

Just last July 8, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Secretary Jacinto Paras said in a press briefing that the measure to end contractualization in the country “is not so much of a priority now”, as “sectors [have] not been voicing out their opinions” on it after Duterte’s veto of the bill.

On education

PROMISE: Increase number of schools with ICT equipment

“We must implement online learning, modular learning, and TV- and radio-based broadcast, which students coming from different backgrounds can avail. DepEd will provide printed modules for those who cannot afford online learning. In support of the Learning Continuity Program through blended learning, we plan to increase the number of schools with ICT equipment in the coming months.” (2020)


Based on a September 2020 status report of the Department of Education (DepEd), almost 6,000 information and communication technology (ICT) packages had been delivered to beneficiaries. Additional 3,765 packages were underway, while 33,414 more were in the pre-procurement stage.

More recent data from a July 1 press release of DepEd show P3.75 billion of the P4.35 billion allocated for programs in basic education under Bayanihan 2 was already disbursed.

Of the P4.35 billion budget, P2.4 billion was allotted to provide laptops to teachers, while P1.2 billion was for internet connectivity load.

A formal agreement for the creation of the Public Education Network (PEN) was also signed by DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) last April. The program aims to “fast track digital connectivity” of public schools nationwide for the continuous implementation of distance learning amid the pandemic.

Despite these efforts, some students and teachers complained about their difficulties with distance learning.

A recent survey conducted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on 6,731 public school teachers nationwide showed 95 percent of the respondents from NCR and 81 percent from other regions said their students constantly struggle with the cost of gadgets and internet connectivity.

Similarly, 95 percent of the teachers from NCR and 86 percent of those from outside the region reported that their students are lagging behind in lessons. The survey also showed seven in ten public school teachers are negatively affected by the current learning setup.

PROMISE: Use TV frequencies 'reverted back' to gov't for distance learning

TV frequencies reverted back to the government for whatever cause or reason [shall be used] exclusively to the exclusion of [private] persons or [their] dummies, to cope with the demand of the next normal. These will be used to provide uninterrupted quality education to our children in our shift to e-learning. I am directing Secretary Guevarra, Secretary Dela Peña and Secretary Honasan, in collaboration with Secretary Briones, and Secretary Avisado, together with Secretary Dominguez, to come up with an integrated program and implementation mechanism to ensure that these TV frequencies are fully utilized by government through the facilities of PTV4 for the utmost benefit of the Filipino people.” (2020)


In a memorandum order issued in June last year, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) directed all cable TV operators to assist DepEd in its plan to utilize the facilities of cable TV networks in carrying out its distance learning program which was developed specifically to assist basic education students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the same issuance, the NTC reminded cable TV operators of Section 6.3.2 of Memorandum Circular No. 4-08-88, mandating all cable TV networks to provide the government with an access channel which can be used in broadcasting any matter related to public service.

A provision in the legislative franchises of radio and TV networks binds them to grant the government a minimum of 30 hours of airtime per month.

PROMISE: Complete Public Education Network program by 2022

The DepEd and the DICT are building up the Public Education Network or PEN that will connect all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide. We will prioritize the connection of all Last Mile Schools and those with no electricity supply can have it via satellite and energized via solar panels. By 2022, before I step down, the PEN shall be realized. [applause] I‘m referring to the program. I will --- I will do it.


As stated above, the PEN was formally launched in April through a partnership agreement between DepEd and DICT.

Since then, the distribution of e-learning gadgets to public schools have been reported in various parts of the country. Just last July 12, DepEd said it had started distributing SIM cards with an initial load of 34GB to a million teaching and non-teaching public school personnel.

However, ACT’s survey shows a different picture.

Only four to six percent of the 6,731 respondents said they were using DepEd-provided laptops. At least seven of ten teachers use their own laptops, with two of them still paying for their device.

Four to six percent of the teachers have no laptop.

As for other expenses, six of ten respondents said they spend at least P1,500 a month for the cost of internet connectivity, printing of modules, and electricity consumption.

A possible solution to this could have been DepEd’s promise to provide teachers with a P300 monthly communication expense reimbursement from March to December last year. However, half of the survey’s respondents from outside NCR said they have not received any amount.

PROMISE: Pass the Nurses Education Act

“We hail our health professionals as heroes. Now is the time to pass the Advanced Nursing --- iyan ho --- Nursing Education Act…” (2020)


HB 9389 or the New Philippine Nursing Practice Act substituted 10 other similar bills and was included in the Calendar for Ordinary Business of the Lower House last May. There has been no update on the measure after it was calendared for future action on June 1.

Its six counterpart bills in the Senate remain pending in three committees and have seen no progress since 2019.

On the modernization of government offices and processes

PROMISE: Modernize Bureau of Fire Protection

We must also modernize the Bureau of Fire Protection ... with urgency.” (2020)

“I also call on Congress to pass a law mandating a Fire Protection Modernization Program.” (2019)


On June 3, the Senate voted against the ratification of a bill modernizing the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), delaying once more the fulfillment of one of Duterte’s promises.

This was after Sen. Franklin Drilon found a provision in the bicameral conference committee’s version of the bill requiring the creation of a BFP security and protection unit. Drilon pointed out that the inserted provision will ultimately authorize the purchase of firearms for members of this unit.

A similar amendment proposed by Sen. Bong Go was already turned down by the Senate in March, during the period of amendments for SB 1832.

Some senators then questioned Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who headed the Senate contingent to the bicameral committee, how a rejected provision had found its way back to the bicam report.

As a result, only 11 senators voted for the ratification of the report, one vote short to pass the measure.

The report has since been returned to the committee level for further deliberations.
PROMISE: Create a Department of Water Resources and a Water Regulatory Commission

“We weathered one damaging effect of climate change this year. The El Niño were wreaked havoc in the agricultural sector and caused water shortage in the greater Metro Manila area. We need to pass bill creating the Department of Water Resources and Water Regulatory Commission.” (2019)


In November 2020, the House Committee on Appropriations approved funding for a bill that substituted 38 different measures creating the Department of Water Resources and the Water Regulatory Commission.

There has been no movement on the bill since.

Similarly, its five counterparts in the Senate are all pending at the committee level — four of which have been stalled since 2019.

In a July 2 press briefing, Local Water Utilities Administrator (LWUA) Jeci Lapus expressed doubt that the measure would be passed by Congress anytime soon, especially since senators are saying that the new agencies will just “add layers” to the government bureaucracy.

Lapus said that LWUA will just “do a better job in providing water to households” for now.

PROMISE: Pass a Government Rightsizing Bill

“The valuation system has also to be improved local government units and rationalize capital income [taxation]. I urge Congress to review and pass the Government Rightsizing Bill to reconfigure the existing Metro Manila-centric bureaucracy; streamline government systems in order to deliver services without delay and within a short timeline.” (2019)

“Let us trim the excess fat and add more muscle through the expeditious passage of “The Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Institute.” (2017)


Duterte’s call for a law that would rightsize the government came as early as his second SONA. Four years later, the promise remains unfulfilled.

Since July 2019, at least 12 bills on this have been filed in the House of Representatives. Half were referred to the Department of Budget and Management two months after they were proposed, but there has been no progress since.

The remaining six bills were all directed to the House Committee on Government Reorganization. Three have been pending since 2019, one since 2020, and two since early this year.

Their Senate counterpart, which was sponsored by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, saw no progress in the past year and is still pending in two committees.

Last November, Sotto renewed his call for the passage of SB 244, saying that the rightsizing of the government should come first before the establishment of new government offices, agencies, and departments.

PROMISE: Amend the government procurement law

"I urge Congress to thoroughly review our existing procurement laws and come up with legislation that will ensure the prompt delivery of quality goods and services to the people, especially medicines and hospital equipment." (2017)


A law amending the existing Government Procurement Reform Act is another long-standing promise of Duterte that has yet to be actualized five years into his presidency.

Six Senate Bills on the matter remain pending at the committee level.

The House of Representatives has at least 13 bills pushing for amendments on the country’s procurement law. Twelve of them were last updated in 2019.

The remaining House bill was filed in September last year and referred to the Committee on Appropriations where it remains stalled.

On housing

PROMISE: Pass the National Housing Development bill

I renew my call for Congress to pass the National Housing Development bill…” (2020)


This is another priority bill under LEDAC’s CLA that has yet to be actualized.

In the past year, the Senate saw more progress on the passage of the measure compared to the House.

Just last June 16, the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing, and Resettlement held a meeting that tackled SB Nos. 2248, 2140 and 2098, which all aim to centralize the government’s efforts in “strengthening” the National Housing Authority (NHA).

Three other similar Senate bills are pending at the committee level.

Meanwhile, the House has at least seven versions of the measure that are all pending in the Committee on Housing and Urban Development. The latest update on any of them was recorded on Sept. 7 last year.

PROMISE: Pass the Rental Housing Subsidy bill

I renew my call for Congress to pass ... the Rental Housing Subsidy bill.” (2020)


HB 8736 or the Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act was approved on final reading last March 25. It has been transmitted to the Senate, where it awaits action from two committees.

Its three counterparts in the upper chamber — SB 1227, 1767, and 1843 — are likewise pending at the committee level.

According to a June 17 Senate press release, the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing, and Resettlement will form a technical working group to consolidate the pending measures.

Once passed into law, the Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act will allow informal settler families to pay their monthly rent at a discounted price for a maximum of five years, or until they are formally relocated to a housing settlement.

PROMISE: Establish evacuation centers in every city, province, and municipality

“Equally important is the establishment of evacuation centers in every city, province and municipality throughout the country. We must act [now] before another major disaster shakes [us] into action.” (2020)


In a message to VERA Files, the Office of Civil Defense said that all LGUs “have designated specific facilities [...] to serve as evacuation centers” totaling 28,083 nationwide.

This number includes “schools, barangay halls, gyms, [and] multipurpose halls.”

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is currently constructing 99 evacuation centers in addition to the 223 completed ones.

However, in November last year, an organization dedicated to disaster preparedness called Agap Banta pointed out some problems with the evacuation centers.

According to the group’s research, 182 of the 270 municipalities in “vulnerable” provinces do not have permanent evacuation centers that completely adhere to safety and design standards.

Agap Banta also mentioned how disasters like Typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses which hit the country amid the pandemic “exposed [the country’s] unsafe evacuations.”

Facilities like barangay halls and multipurpose gyms “may not be entirely fit” to house evacuees of calamities, as compared to dedicated evacuation centers.

Agap Banta called on government to address this problem before evacuation sites become hotbeds for COVID-19 infections and invest in evacuation centers that allow for physical distancing.

PROMISE: No demolitions without relocations

"There will be no demolitions without relocations… Government will expropriate. I will make use of the expropriation powers." (2016)


This 2016 promise of Duterte only echoes what is already stated in Article VII Section 28 of Republic Act 7279 or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.”

The law says that in the event of evictions or demolitions involving “underprivileged and homeless citizens,” the concerned LGU shall work with the NHA in providing these displaced individuals with “adequate relocation” within 45 days from the issuance of the eviction or demolition order.

In a July 14 email, the Public Housing and Settlements Service (PHSS) of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development told VERA Files that the NHA has resettlement programs in place for informal settlers living in danger areas, as well as those affected by government infrastructure projects like the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation efforts.

The PHSS said that 34,748 housing units were already completed by the NHA, in addition to the 13,913 built under the Resettlement Assistance Programs (RAP) of LGUs.

On top of these, DILG also issued a memorandum circular in April last year ordering LGUs to postpone “all demolition and eviction activities” while the country is in a state of national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was lifted last March 12.

Despite the safeguards provided by the law and the DILG circular, as well as the supposed ongoing relocation projects set up by the NHA, there were still reports in the past year about families losing their homes to demolitions, forcing some of them to live in the streets.

The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor acknowledged that some LGUs conduct demolitions without providing relocation sites or financial assistance to the displaced families, a clear violation of RA 7279. The commission even threatened to file appropriate cases against LGUs engaged in such activities.

On agriculture

PROMISE: Conduct a nationwide soil analysis

“We shall also conduct a nationwide soil analysis to determine areas most suitable for rice farming to optimize production with the use of effective soil rehabilitation and fertilization.” (2016)


The Bureau of Soils and Water Management wrapped up the National Soil Sampling and Testing Project last June by turning over its findings to concerned LGUs and DA Regional Field Offices, Bureau Director Pablo Montalla told VERA Files in an email.

The bureau hopes that farmers would use this information in the improvement of their farm practices that could eventually lead to an increase in their yield.

The agency also calls for legislators and other stakeholders to use the project’s outputs as a guide in proposing laws and carrying out “sustainable land management programs.”


Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 1832, Sept. 15, 2020, Senate scraps bicam version of bill on BFP modernization over arming of firemen, June 3, 2021

CNN Philippines, Senate rejects bicam version of BFP modernization bill, June 3, 2021

Rappler, Senate rejects BFP modernization bicam report for allowing firefighters to carry guns, June 3, 2021

Department of Social Welfare and Development, Personal Communication, July 22, 2021

Department of Labor and Employment, P1b educ subsidy for OFW school kids, Sept. 26, 2020

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, OWWA sets 400M ed aid for kin of COVID affected OFWs, Aug. 27, 2020

Department of Trade and Industry, Agri-Negosyo Para Sa OFWs, Oct. 18, 2020

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, 'TESDA Abot Lahat ang OFWs' continue to empower thousands of 'modern-day heroes', Feb. 22, 2021

Department of Labor and Employment, Online entrepreneurship course for OFWs set, Nov. 7, 2020

On the implementation of the social amelioration program

On providing PUV drivers with financial aid

On removing six million Filipinos from poverty

On deploying 20,000 healthcare workers

On creating an agency on national disease prevention and management

On passing a law creating a Medical Reserve Corps

On deploying healthcare workers in all barangays

On benefits for solo parents

On establishing the Department of Overseas Filipinos

On coming up with agri-business projects for displaced OFWs

On providing scholarship programs for OFW dependents

On creating TESDA training programs for returning OFWs

On amending the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016

On preventing, reducing, and eliminating child labor

On passing a law prohibiting labor contractualization

On increasing the number of schools with ICT equipment

On using TV frequencies for distance learning programs

On completing the Public Education Network program by 2022

On passing the Nurses Education Act

On modernizing the Bureau of Fire Protection

On creating the Department of Water Resources and Water Regulatory Commission

On rightsizing the government

On amending the Government Procurement Law

On passing the National Housing Development Bill

On passing the Rental Housing Subsidy bill

On establishing evacuation centers in every city, province, and municipality

On the “no demolitions without relocations policy”

On conducting a nationwide soil analysis

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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