PEP YEARENDER 2016: Numbers that matter in 2016

IMAGE Noel Orsal / RMN / Manny Pacquiao Facebook

Comedian-TV host Vice Ganda, President Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Manny Pacquiao


Before we say good riddance to the "worst year ever" that is 2016, let's look back at the numbers that might prove, or disprove, this assumption.

Politics dominated our experience of 2016. It was inescapable. Identical news clips played again and again on television, and it followed us online to our social media channels.

The happy phenomenon of AlDub dominated Facebook last year; this year it's political controversies, day in and day out.

Noynoy Aquino's six-year term as the 15th President of the Philippines ended last June. But he was not able to leave quietly, because his last moves were met with resistance.

First, he vetoed House Bill 5842, which aimed to increase SSS monthly pensions by P2,000. In his veto letter, Aquino said the increase will incur a P16 billion to P26 billion yearly deficit to the social fund's coffers.

Second, he vetoed House Bill 6411 and Senate Bill 2720. Both bills aimed to increase the annual compensation of nurses from P228,924 to P344,074.

ELECTIONS. Rodrigo Duterte became the 16th President of the Philippines when he won the national elections held on May 9.

The Mayor from Davao earned a total of 16,601,997 votes, defeating Mar Roxas's 9,978,175 votes, Grace Poe's 9,100,991 votes, Jojo Binay's 5,416,140 votes and Miriam Defensor-Santiago's 1,455,532 votes.

Then Leni Robredo won the vice-presidential elections. The former Camarines Sur congresswoman got 14,418,817, higher than Bongbong Marcos's 14,155,344 votes, Alan Peter Cayetano's 5,903,379 votes, Chiz Escudero's 4,931,962 votes, Antonio Trillanes's 868,501 votes and Gringo Honasan's 788,881 votes.

Robredo's election was met with resistance from Duterte's camp because the new President prefers Bongbong Marcos more.

In fact, Duterte's alliance with the Marcoses manifested into other issues. The most controversial one was his campaign promise to allow the former President Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It was carried out on November 18, after the Supreme Court voted 9-5 in favor of the dictator's burial.

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The said burial resulted into massive protests, with huge crowds in various areas of the Metro. The November 25 protest in Luneta, for example, had a crowd of up to 20,000 protesters.

DRUGS. Another issue in Duterte's presidency is the much-criticized drug war.

He released several narco lists over the past six months.

One in August bared 159 alleged drug coddlers in several law enforcement agencies. Another one in September included around 40 judges.

The President's vicious drug war has resulted into several deaths of drug users, pushers and even innocent victims. Independent bodies have estimated the latest death count to close to 6000.

CHINA. Another controversial issue for current government is when Duterte set aside the decision of the UNCLOS that China's nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea is invalid.

Instead, the President cozied up to China, telling them that he is open to joint exploration on the contested islands.

But Duterte's position netted a positive development: Filipino fishermen were allowed to fish near Scarborough shoal freely, after four years of being hosed away by the Chinese coast guard.

This is not the only positive development. Other remarkable moves by the Duterte administration include the institution of the 911 and 8888 hotlines, and the signing of the Freedom of Information executive order (with 166 exemptions).

Another notable development is the quick resolution of the Davao City bombing on September 13, where 15 died. The police arrested three of the ten suspects on October 2, onlythree weeks after the incident.

OTHER ISSUES. There were other controversies that rocked our social media feed.

One major issue was the heist of US$951 million from the Bangladesh Bank on February. $81 million was routed to a Philippine bank.

Last July, the Supreme Court set former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo free after four years of hospital arrest. In an 11-4 vote, the high court acquitted the former head of state from accusations of plunder.

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Then only this December, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the plunder case against former Agriculture Undersecretary Joc-joc Bolante over the 723 million peso fertilizer fund scam.

Another recent controversy was the announcement of up to 400,000 pesos in bonuses for key officials of the Philippine National Police.

TRIUMPHS. 2016, however, wasn't all bad. We also celebrated victories made by our fellow Filipinos in the world of sports and entertainment.

Manny Pacquiao bested Timothy Bradley in their third fight held last April. In a unanimous decision, all three judges scored the fight 116-110 in favor of the Filipino boxer.

The Philippines proudly supported 13 athletes in the Olympics held at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in August. Then we celebrated when Hidilyn Diaz won a silver medal in the women's 53-kg weightlifting division. It ended the country's 20-year Olympic medal drought.

Another example of a sports triumph? 20-year-old Janelle Mae Freyna became the first Woman Grandmaster from the Philippines, when she performed strongly at the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Azerbaijan last September.

The world of entertainment also had its international successes.

First, Jaclyn Jose became the first Filipino to win a best actress award in the Cannes Film Festival. She took home the award for her portrayal of a drug pusher in Ma' Rosa.

Another movie that made waves abroad was Ang Babaeng Humayo. Lav Diaz's three-hour epic won the Silver Bear at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival, and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Another triumph for Filipino cinema is the revision of the Metro Manila Film Festival. This year's line-up consisted of eight quality movies, edging out the usual commercial fare.

One of the potential MMFF movies that missed the Magic 8 list was Star Cinema's Super Parental Guardians, which stars Vice Ganda and Coco Martin.

Even if it screened earlier than Christmas, the comedy film still grossed more than 500 million at the box office, making it the best-earning local movie for the year.

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