The local economy has grown and the lives of Filipinos have improved in the first three years of President Duterte but the government is not about to rest on its laurels, according to a Palace official.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said while the numbers were “positive and encouraging” halfway through the President’s term, much work remains to be done to sustain the gains of the administration in the next three years.

“President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to sustain and build on the successes of the past, and to continue the sound reforms and social programs that truly change the quality of life for all Filipinos towards genuine self-empowerment,” he said during the second Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum in Cebu City.

Nograles also asked government workers to remain as “partners in change,” saying Duterte could not do it alone. He said the government must continue to allot time and resources on social services and other programs benefiting the people.

“All of you––our co-workers in government, our partners in change––have helped make this possible. Still, while much has been accomplished, much more remains to be done. Di pa po tapos ang trabaho natin [Our job is not done], friends, we still have work to do,” he said.

In the first three years of the President, Nograles highlighted the robust economic growth as well as reduction in poverty in the country.

“Our economy has grown at least 6 percent annually. Poverty in the first half of 2018 was reduced to 21 percent from 27 percent in 2015. Self- rated poverty, according to the SWS (Social Weather Stations) fell from 50 percent in the last quarter of 2018 to 38 percent in the first quarter of this year––an all- time low,” he said.

“The numbers support this unassailable truth: the lives of our people have improved in the first three years under President Duterte,” he added.

Nograles made the remarks ahead of the President’s SONA before a joint session of Congress on July 22.

The pre-SONA activity held in Cebu focused on government programs in providing broader access to education, employment, healthcare and government services. The event carried the theme “Patuloy na Malasakit at Pagkakaisa.”

It was the second in the three-part forum organized by the Cabinet to highlight the administration’s achievements in various areas such as economy, infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, and peace and security as well as its goals in the coming years.

Nograles said the pre-SONA forum aims “to provide the data, figures, and the minutiae too numerous to include in the President’s SONA––details that will contribute to a better understanding of the President’s overarching messages.”

It also aims to provide the nation “with the opportunity to raise your concerns directly to the President, through his able alter-egos,” he said.

The third and last pre-SONA forum will be conducted on July 17 in Davao City. The forum, titled “Patuloy ng Katatagan,” will discuss measures in ensuring the country’s ecological integrity, as well as national security and public order and safety.

This article was originally published on on July 10, 2019.

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