Ahead of SONA 2016, sectors weigh in on Duterte's promises

MANILA, Philippines – "I have promised you something and if you know me, I will really do it. I will do it even if I lose my life, my honor, and even the presidency."

The words of then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte resound as the Philippines' 16th President is set to give his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25.

As part of his Constitutional obligation, Duterte will address the 17th Congress during the opening of its regular session on Monday.

During the annual speech, the President "reports on the state of the country, reveals the government's agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures," the Official Gazette said.

If Duterte's speech during his proclamation rally is to be believed, the tough-talking President intends to keep all his campaign promises in the next 6 years. But which promises will make it to his first SONA?

Rappler looks back on Duterte's campaign promises about education, health, and environment. What do experts, advocates, and members of civil society think about them?

Valbuena: Teachers welcome that proposal very much. Actually, teachers are not demanding for more than double – just an entry-level salary of P25,000 will do. The cost of living now in the National Capital Region is already at P30,000, but teachers are only earning P19,000 – way, way far below the poverty threshold.* 

Salazar: Teachers are key to improving quality. But simply increasing salaries will not do this. Any increases need to be matched or even preceded by an improvement in evaluation, performance appraisal, and training. As a matter of fact, rather than across-the-board increases, merit-based improvements in salary would go further in improving quality.

Valbuena: Because we really lack classrooms right now…. What happens is, schools divide classrooms into two. The student population continues to increase, but we are not getting additional classrooms, which is why this proposal of Duterte is good. Reduce class size, construct more classrooms.*

Salazar: Education, I believe, remains to be one of the main ways out of poverty. But for this to happen we need to focus not only on access but on quality. So much has been said about expanding access...but access to low quality education doesn't do much…. We must talk about improving quality and outcomes as much as we talk about access. This is the only way people will genuinely not be left behind.

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.