President Rodrigo Duterte had a “great” four years in office, Palace spokesman Harry Roque claimed on Thursday.

“It’s been a great four years,” Roque said when asked about Duterte’s four years as president.

Roque said that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines had one of the best-performing economies in the world.

“We average 6.5 percent growth annually, since in the past four years, inflation was under control [and] interest rates were low. We had the record credit rating, attesting to the fact na naniniwala po iyong mga nagpapautang na tama ang ating mga ginagawang mga polisiya,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

During Duterte’s term, the country’s economy grew 6.9 percent in 2016, 6.7 percent in 2017, 6.2 percent in 2018 and 6 percent in 2019.

“So it was actually a great performance as far as the economy is concerned,” Roque added.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the country to its first economic contraction since 1998, as it saw a 0.2 percent gross domestic product decline in the first quarter of 2020.

Roque expressed optimism that the country’s economy would recover as industries and businesses gradually reopen under less stringent quarantine protocols in majority of the country.

“Mayroon po tayong pagsubok pero dahil mayroon po tayong very sound fundamentals, makakaahon din po tayo dito sa pagsubok ng Covid-19,” he said.

Duterte took office on June 30, 2016. He became the oldest to become Philippine president and the first to come from Mindanao.

Among his priority programs was the deadly war on drugs, which earned international condemnation for thousands of killings of mostly poor drug suspects in police operations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council last year called for a probe on the country’s human rights record.

A report by the UN human rights office released last month detailed widespread rights violations, which it said was “exacerbated by harmful rhetoric emanating from the highest levels of the Government.”

Duterte was also criticized for folding to China on the South China Sea issue, after promising during his presidential campaign that he would travel by jetski to plant a Philippine flag on an island in the contested waters. John Ezekiel J. Hirro