MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte used his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22, to tell Congress what laws he wants passed and what Filipinos can expect in the last half of his term.
It lasted an hour and 33 minutes, making it his 3rd longest SONA so far. It also contained 7 expletives, much less than his second SONA (25 expletives) but more than his first and third SONAs which had no curse words.
Can’t watch or read the entire speech? We summarize key points here:
High approval ratings – After the usual introductions of top officials, among the first things President Duterte does is highlight his popularity, by saying only 3% of Filipinos disapprove of him.
Drug crackdown – The persistent problem of illegal drugs is Duterte’s first topic. He claims the 2017 Marawi siege began with a government raid on shabu being kept by extremists there.
Death penalty – He asks Congress to bring back the death penalty for heinous crimes related to drugs and plunder.
Corruption – Duterte condemns the PhilHealth ghost kidney treatment scam, commends the National Bureau of Investigation for the arrest of high-profile criminals, and recalls how he has fired “more than a hundred” government officials. He cites revenue collections by government corporations as signs that anti-corruption reforms are working.
Anti-red tape – He tells the Land Transportation Office, Social Security System, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Registration Authority, and Pag-IBIG to improve their services as data from the complaint center under his office show they were the subject of many complaints. He wants processing of permits to last only 3 days.
Rehabilitation of tourist attractions – Duterte brings up the temporary closure of Boracay and the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. He threatens to “burn down” establishments that commit violations.
Telecommunications – Duterte speaks about Dito Telecommunity, the newly established third telecommunications provider in the Philippines. He challenges them to render services to as many Filipinos as possible. He also promises no corruption was involved in Dito Telecommunity’s entry into the sector.
Bangsamoro Organic Law – The President tells the Bangsamoro government to fast-track the development of the region and improve the quality of life of Muslims and indigenous peoples.
Ending communist violence – Duterte talks of his leadership of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and his assigning Cabinet members to various regions to oversee efforts to end communist insurgency there.
Education – Duterte commends Secretary Leonor Briones and the Department of Education for having over 27 million enrolled students from kinder to senior high school. Improvements in the national education system are also seen in the Alternative Learning System for out-of-school youth and adult learners. He also supports the creation of a National Academy for Sports.
Bong Go – The President makes special mention of his trusted aide, neophyte senator Bong Go, and Go’s pet bills, a treatment he gives to no other lawmaker in the room.
Barangay polls – Duterte asks Congress to postpone the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to October 2022.
Protection of overseas Filipino workers – He signed the Bilateral Labor Agreement with Kuwait, in an effort to protect OFWs from abusive employers. He also seeks to establish a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.
West Philippine Sea – Duterte repeated his claim that he can’t assert Philippine rights over the West Philippine Sea for fear of sparking a war against China. He defends his decision to let Chinese fishermen fish in Philippine waters, saying that international sea laws allow such an arrangement. However, such deals have to be written whereas his deal with China is only a verbal one.
Poverty – Duterte reports a decrease in the poverty incidence rate from 27.6% during the 1st half of 2015 to 21% in the 1st half of 2018. He also implores that citizens join him in alleviating poverty.
Tax reform – The President calls for the passage of Package 2 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, otherwise known as the Trabaho bill.
Liquor ban – Duterte says he wants a law ordering all drinking establishments to close at midnight.
Salary increase – He asks Congress to pass the Salary Standardization Law which will raise salaries for all national government workers, including teachers and nurses.
Disaster risk reduction and management – The President pushes for the establishment of a Department of Disaster Resilience in preparation for future natural calamities.
Fire protection – He calls on Congress to pass a law creating a Fire Protection Modernization Program.
Water department – Due to the recent water shortage in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, Duterte calls for the creation of a Department of Water Resources and a Water Regulatory Commission.
Land use planning – He asks Congress to pass the National Land Use Act, which will develop lands in the countryside. This will encourage sustainable economic growth in the provinces.
Sexist remarks – In various parts of his speech, Duterte makes some sexist remarks like how sunbathing women await foreigners in Boracay and how he has a “smelly” girlfriend because of the Metro Manila water crisis.
Metro Manila traffic – Duterte orders the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Metro Manila local government officials to reclaim public roads being used for private purposes. He orders Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend mayors who don’t comply.
Rice and coconut farmers – Duterte vows that his administration will implement the rice tariffication law. He calls for the careful utilization of the coco levy fund. He also blasts the Land Bank of the Philippines for allegedly prioritizing commercial transactions over funding of agricultural activities.
Strengthening national security – He pushes for the passage of the National Defense Act and the Unified Military and Uniformed Personnel Separation, Retirement, and Pension Bill. He also wants to promote patriotism among the youth by making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program mandatory for senior high school students.
Tired – The President says he’s tired and unhappy in office and would welcome a coup d’etat by the military.
Period of consequences – Duterte ends his speech by saying the second half of his term is a “period of consequences.” He hopes for sustained momentum in the remaining years of his term, which ends in 2022.
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