War on drugs, corruption, taxes, healthcare and the promotion of a new House Speaker — These are the highlights of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). A lot of Filipino people found the speech controversial for not only it captured various topics but it was also shrouded by shocking announcements.
July 23, 2018 — Two years after President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath as the President of the Philippines, he returned to the Batasang Pambansa Complex to deliver his third State of the Nation Address and presented the Administration’s current plans in providing changes for the “greater good” of Filipinos.
About the SONA
The event, which was held at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives in Batasang Pambansa Complex, Q.C, was attended by government personalities including the Senate President (Vicente Sotto III), House Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez), Vice President (Leni Robredo), some members of the House of Representatives as well as former presidents such as Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph E. Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was promoted as the new House Speaker.
This year’s SONA was momentarily — which spanned for only 48 minutes (along with an hour and 15 minute delay), which is quite different from his past SONAs which even lasted for an hour and 33 minutes.
Here are some of the topics that were covered during Duterte’s speech:
1. The War Wage against Illegal Drugs
“Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.” — President Rodrigo Duterte
President Duterte gave his personal take when it comes to the country’s ongoing war against illegal drugs — which is indeed far from over.
This has been one of the administration’s main advocacies ever since Duterte stepped foot at Malacañang as the elected Philippine President. He clearly stated that this mission is continuous despite the horrendous reception that the government is getting from protests by church leaders and human rights advocates. “The illegal drugs war will not be sidelined, instead it will be as relentless and chilling” PDu30 said.
2. Corruption, Government Transactions and Ease of Doing Business
“Corruption must stop now”– This has been one of the President’s famed battle cry ever since his ascendance as the Philippine government’s chief executive personnel.
During his speech, President Duterte mentioned about the over-manipulation of government funds resulting to corruption. He also made a promise that the government will soon have an “all-out” retribution against these so-called corrupt government officials. The President said that he’s willing to let go of friendships, just to ensure peace and justice within his administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the bill that will reduce processing times of business transactions in government agencies which is also known as the Ease of Doing Business Act, stating that the Filipino people deserves nothing less but the best services from the government.
3. Signing the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Terrorism, Road to Peace
“One road leads to harmony and peace, the other to war and human suffering” — President Rodrigo Duterte
In his SONA speech, Duterte described Mindanao as “The Land of Promise” and vowed that he will sign the “already passed” Bangsamoro Organic Law within 48 hours.
In his speech, he stated:
“I make this solemn commitment that this administration will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the Constitutional framework of our country.”
President Duterte also mentioned that there was a “significant increase” within the budget for Mindanao, saying “we aim to rectify that derisive observation and, as a matter of fact, we are now in the process of fulfilling that promise through significant increases in the budget for Mindanao.”
He also assured the Filipino people that no terrorist and its allies would never get the chance to set their foot within the country, and paid homage to those brave soldiers and police officers who risked their lives in order to restore peace and freedom to both Christians and Muslims living in Marawi.
4. Executive Order Vs Endo
President Duterte claimed that his campaign against end of contract or ‘endo’ has led to the regularization of more than 300,000 workers as of early this month, Executive Order No. 51, which was implemented in order to protect the Filipino worker’s right to security of tenure.
In his SONA speech, Duterte mentioned that the Filipino people has his back when it comes to the passing of this law, saying:
“I understand that this does not satisfy all sectors. I share their sentiment. I truly do — Much as i would like to do the impossible, that power is not vested upon me by the constitution and neither will i make both ends meet even if i will violate the laws to achieve that purpose.That is why I add mine to the voices in asking Congress to pass legislation ending the practice of contractualization once and for all.”
5. Environmental Issues, Mining, Disaster and Risk Reduction
Boracay island, a symbol of Philippine’s beauty that has been closed off to tourists for almost 3 months now because of the government’s negligence. Duterte said that restoring the integrity of Boracay and protecting the country’s resources is a goal of the government and he also urged local government units to work together in living up this vision of bringing back the beauty within the shores of Boracay, and prevent factors such as mining, pollution and other harmful elements that is ravaging our land and aquatic resources.
The President also called for the passage of the National Land Use Act , which will address land requirements (food, housing, business, etc.) that will help save these resources for future generations to come, as well as government sectors taking part in creating a law that focuses on disaster risk and management that will help prepare the country from hazards and disasters such as earthquakes, climate change and typhoons.
6. Taxes, TRAIN Law, Package 2
When it comes to taxes, President Duterte wants to make sure that everyone will benefit from the packages of TRAIN, saying that this law would further bring a fair tax system throughout the country.
In his SONA speech, the president urged the Congress to prioritize the passage of the 2nd package, stating that he wants to sign it before the end of the year:
“I hope to sign Package 2 before the year ends. I urge Congress to pass it in a form that satisfies our goals and serves the interests of the many, not just the wealthy few.”
Check out this article for you to know more about Duterte’s SONA speech involving taxes and TRAIN law.
7. International Relations
President Duterte confirmed that they are reaching out to all nations to improve the growth of the Philippine economy as well as to create stronger bonds with fellow ASEAN peers like Malaysia and Indonesia.
He also addressed our country’s readiness when it comes to foreign threats (terrorist groups, pirates, etc.), and applauded the efforts and sacrifices of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who would leave their families to work on other parts of the world, thus contributing to the national economy. Furthermore, the President reminded them that the government would never leave them behind once they encounter abuse from foreign employers.
The President also made it clear that the Philippines still doesn’t back down, as per its issues with China regarding territorial disputes:
“Our improved relationship with China does not mean we will waver in our commitment to defend our interest in the West Philippine Sea,”
8. Yet Other Honorable Mentions
a. Federalism — Yes, believe it or not — the proposal for a federal government is still there, and President Duterte is confident that the Filipino people will stand with him on this.
b. Coconut Farmers Trust Fund — Duterte urges the congress to pass on this law in order to help farmers especially those in the coconut industry.
c. Proper Consultations Leading to Good Decisions — establishing of Malasakit Centers in Cebu, Tacloban as well as Ilo-ilo; Approval of Tertiary Education Act and increasing salary of soldiers and policemen.
d. Issue on Rice — Aside from fast distribution of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA), President Duterte also mentioned about the implementation of a rice tariff system where rice can be imported easily, thus providing additional resources to farmers in return.
e. Healthcare — President Duterte also shared about the No Balance Billing Policy (NBB), which would allow the government and private healthcare providers to work together in providing further assistance to those who are suffering financially.
f. Improving Telcom — the President also believes on the possibility of new telcom players entering the country, thus providing lower cost rates and faster internet connection.