President Rodrigo R. Duterte (PPD photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte celebrated his 77th birthday Monday, with warm greetings from the public he vowed to serve.

People interviewed by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) including vendors, commuters, security guards, and construction workers expressed satisfaction with the president's performance, saying they felt positive changes during his administration.

Security guard Vicente Rosete, 48, of Tandang Sora in Quezon City, said six years of service for a hardworking president like Duterte is not enough because he has done his job well.

“Sa akin mga 99 percent talagang aprub talaga siya. Napaganda niyan, kung tutuusin kulang ang six years na panunungkulan niya sa gobyerno, pero nasa batas natin na six years lang talaga, pero pwede pa naman siya mag-serve siguro sa atin kahit wala na siya sa ano, sa iba na (I give him my 99 percent approval. He has very good projects, actually his six years of service is not enough, but the law states that it’s only six years, but maybe he can still serve in other ways),“ he added.

Among the projects Rosete admired is the flagship "Build, Build, Build” program, the administration's massive infrastructure program.

Rosete said he and many others would benefit from the projects once these are completed.

He also thanked Duterte for encouraging security agencies to give the employees the minimum salary provided by the law.

“Malaki talaga ang naitulong ni Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa aming mga security guard dahil bale naging minimum na talaga. Kasi dati may mga security agency na hindi minimum, pero dahil sa kanya, dahil in-encourage niya 'yung mga security agency na pataasin din o dagdagan ang sweldo ng mga guwardiya so malaki ang naitulong niya (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was able to help us when he encouraged security agencies to give us the minimum pay. There were security agencies that do not even provide minimum pay, but because he encouraged them to adjust our salary, he was able to help us),” Rosete said.

(From left) Rosete, Santi and Albert 

“Binabati kita mahal na pangulo sa iyong kaarawan. Sana ay dagdagan pa o pahabain pa ang iyong buhay para makatulong ka pa rin sa mga Pilipino (I send you my birthday greetings. I wish you long life so you can continue serving the people). Happy birthday sir, Mr. President. Thank you,” he said.

For construction worker Alexander Sata, 51, Duterte and his team handled the pandemic well, putting in place unpopular but necessary decisions to ensure that Filipinos are safe from the coronavirus.

To date, the Philippines has one of the lowest daily coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian region.

Vilma Gandarino,55, vendor, said Duterte's administration did a good job and she was thankful for the ayuda when the pandemic hit.

“Maganda naman ang pamamalakad ni Pangulong Duterte dito sa ating bansa (President Duterte’s administration did well). Malaking tulong 'yung natanggap namin mula sa kanya, sa gobyerno, kagaya nung mga ayuda, malaki na rin 'yun, mahalaga na rin 'yun sa amin (The assistance he has given us, the government, has been a good help),” she said.

"Mahal na pangulo, happy birthday at tsaka lagi kang mag iingat. God bless po (beloved president, happy birthday, take care of yourself always and God bless)."

Teacher Danilo Santi, 54, thanked Duterte for signing the Salary Standardization Law which modified the salary schedule for civilian government personnel, granting additional benefits to government employees, including public school teachers.

“Mahusay, umunlad ang Pilipinas, naiba yung kalakaran, tapos natupad ang malaking problema ng bawat departamento, so umunlad talaga ang bansa sa pagiging pangulo ni Pangulong Duterte (He is good, the Philippines adapted to the changes, issues in different departments of the government were resolved, the country progressed during President Duterte’s leadership),” he said.

Commuters Jobeth Cabile and Dolores Likwido were one in saying they are more at peace walking the city streets even at night.

To them, the anti-illegal drugs program of the Duterte administration was a success.

"Mahal ka namin Presidente Rodrigo Duterte, maraming salamat sa nagawa ninyo sa inyong termino (We love you President Rodrigo Duterte, thank you for your service to the country)," Cabile said.

Duterte is stepping down in June this year. (PNA)