By James Veloso and Rosemarie Señora

FULL of surprises .That in three words would best describe the year 2016.

There is no doubt however that the biggest surprise of 2016 is President Rodrigo Duterte’s landslide victory in the May elections over his more established rivals and the subsequent controversies he generated spiked by his acerbic statements and stands on various issues.

Even social media giant Facebook has listed President Duterte and the Philippine presidential elections as among the most talked about topics in the world in 2016.

In our final issue for this year, OpinYon’s Board of Editors has decided to list down the most significant and surprising issues that came out this year as we take a quick glimpse of the year that is about to close. 


Year in Review


The year 2016 started on what can be described as a lull before the storm as no significant and earthshaking event had transpired except for the usual reports of those hurt and killed as an offshoot of New Year revelry.

During this period, OpinYon mainly focused on battling “pharma lobbies” such as pharma giant Pfizer, and lauding the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for strictly enforcing the Clean Air Act of 1999.



In the second month of the year, a huge financial controversy had erupted after unknown hackers believed to be from China tried to steal nearly US $1 billion from the Bangladesh central bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The hackers succeeded in transferring US $81 million that landed in the Philippines using fictitious accounts opened by suspected casino junket operators at a Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch in Makati City.

The incident sent shockwaves in the country’s financial community prompting legislators to conduct a Senate probe that eventually led to the identification of some participants in the white collar bank heist.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the heated campaign period for the May polls, OpinYon started to check on results of pre-poll surveys over reports that they were “rigged” to favor former Vice President Jejomar Binay.

OpinYon also turned its focus on the merger between the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), a move believed conjured to sweep under the rug anomalies involving officials of the two government –owned banks.   



As the presidential race became more heated in the early summer months, OpinYon once again took time to fact check some campaign promises especially the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program which was obviously ripped off from the Aquino administration.

March also saw the meteoric rise of “last-minute candidate” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in surveys.

In an OpinYon cover story published on March 21, Atty. Salvador Panelo, now Presidential Legal Counsel, described the phenomenon as “Duterte Fever” which ultimately swept the country and catapulted Duterte to victory.  



By April, OpinYon had started to fully scrutinize the campaign platforms of all the presidential bets, while also analyzing every move and strategy to convince the voters.

OpinYon also focused on the contrasting styles of Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas who was championing “Daang Matuwid” mantra with Duterte’s unconventional, profanity-laced campaign speeches, including a “rape joke” which earned the ire of Australian ambassador Amanda Gorely.

OpinYon also drew attention to the strange political alliances that had sprung up during this period, most notably the “JoLen” (Jejomar Binay/Leni Robredo) tandem cooked up by various groups.



Finally, “E-Day” arrived – the presidential elections on May 9, during which OpinYon sized up the presidential candidates’ platforms and programs.

In the end, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte garnered a total of 16 million votes, the highest ever gained by any candidate in Philippine history.

OpinYon also turned its guns on the Marcos family and read through their attempts to gain back power and wealth with their desperate attempts to win the vice-presidential derby through Sen. Bongbong Marcos.

LP bet Rep. Leni Robredo however won a very close contest practically shutting the palace doors on the Marcoses.



Like everybody else, OpinYon began focusing on President Rodrigo Duterte, who made history as the first Mindanaoan to be sworn in as our country’s Chief Executive.

President Duterte’s uncanny leadership style has made many observers especially those who are keen observers of protocol scratch their heads.

Unlike his predecessors who behaved and spoke in stately manners, President Duterte refused to change his style earning for him the distinction of being an “unpresidential president”.  

He was soon recognized internationally as a brash, no-nonsense leader whose profanity-laced speeches and maverick policies delighted the populace and earned the ire of critics both here and abroad.

On focus too during this month is the issue of Metro Manila’s traffic mess – a main concern which had propelled Duterte to victory in the May elections. For OpinYon, the traffic mess is no more a trivial matter but a “killer” that could paralyze the economy, if not addressed properly and quickly.



OpinYon’s most memorable piece for July was an article on Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s plans to solve Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

In a humorous piece entitled “Flying Carpet” published on July 15, the magazine mocked Tugade’s plan to put up cable cars along Laguna de Bay, derisively suggesting that he (Tugade) might as well use flying carpets to solve the traffic crisis.

OpinYon also focused on the release of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from detention on July 21 – an overdue move, the newsmagazine declared in its July 25article, “Vindicated!”



By August, OpinYon has resumed its crusade against big businesses and conglomerates that are bleeding our economy dry especially after President Duterte took to task fund manager Manny V. Pangilinan who had earlier warned the government for meddling in big businesses’ affairs.

His comments did not sit well with President Duterte who even described him as a mere puppet of Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim.

The next few weeks saw OpinYon coming out with series of exposes on how MVP and his group operates that culminated with an article about Maynilad probably supplying its customers with contaminated water from Laguna de Bay.



Once again, Transportation Secretary Tugade made headlines when he declared that Metro Manila traffic is just a “state of mind.”

In its September 12 issue, OpinYon reminded Tugade that traffic in Metro Manila is not a “state of mind” but a reality that should be addressed.

Needless to say, the article earned an unprecedented attack on OpinYon’s social media accounts, with trolls accusing the magazine of everything from being “Yellows” (supporters of the Aquino administration) to “paid hacks”.

Despite this, OpinYon managed to celebrate its 7th year anniversary with one big achievement: the magazine had set the spark which ultimately led to President Duterte’s elections.



October marked the first 100 days of President Duterte, in which OpinYon newsmagazine gave the President an A+ grade for efficiently addressing our country’s pressing problems particularly the drug menace and corruption.

OpinYon also lauded members of Duterte’s Cabinet – most notably Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez –for living up to their mandated tasks.

Piñol, Lopez, Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, in particular, were lauded for their principles, policies and programs to elevate the lives of ordinary Filipinos, something that had not been seen in the past administration.



President Duterte was hounded with controversy after the family of late President Ferdinand Marcos succeeded in finally burying his remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani albeit surreptitiously.

A Supreme Court ruling on November 8 allowing Marcos to be buried at the LNMB triggered a “sneaky” burial rite on November 18 that resulted in protests around the country by both pro and anti Marcos supporters.

In the foreign arena, business mogul Donald Trump stunned the world when he won the United States presidential elections over favored rival and Democratic standard bearer Hillary Clinton. Trump's victory marked a new turning point in US-Philippine relations and a boost for Duterte, OpinYon noted in November its November 15 issue.



The biggest story for this month was when Vice President Leni Robredo was booted out of her Cabinet post unceremoniously.

Leni who is HUDCC chair was reportedly advised by Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, Jr to desist from attending Cabinet meetings.

Gambling operator Jack Lam also grabbed the spotlight – and OpinYon’s attentions – during this month, after 1,316 Chinese nationals were arrested while working in an illegal online gambling inside Fontana at Clark Development Corporation (CDC) in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The incident has created a huge controversy after several subplots emerged after  P50-million in bribe money was reportedly given as bribe to BI Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Mike Robles both Lex Taliones fraternity  brothers of President Duterte and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, in exchange for the release of at least 600 arrested Chinese nationals.

Another development in December was while Robredo was shown the door, Secretary Tugade was however luckier as he was eventually confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments last week.

Tugade finally hurdled the CA after his main critics, the Road Users Protection Advocates (RUPA) led by its Chairman Ray Junia and other movements withdrew their opposition against him.(See related story in this issue) 



The year 2016 is indeed surprising but OpinYon firmly believes that the coming year 2017 would be more challenging simply because there are still lots of works to be done.

But the good thing is that we Filipinos are ready to face every challenge because we have an indomitable spirit backstopped by our strong faith and belief in God.

The government of President Duterte can only do so much but at the end of the day, the failure or success of our nation lies in the hands of the people.

As always, OpinYon will always be here to chronicle every single significant event that will unfold and be part of our country’s history.


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