President Duterte SONA 2018 highlights, review for reaction paper


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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivered on Monday, July 23, 2018 his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) in front of around 3,000 lawmakers and guests at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City.

President Duterte SONA 2018 highlights, review for reaction paper
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

SONA 2018 broke tradition of highlighting the previous year accomplishments but instead the iron-fist leader addressed as a "father of the Filipinos" and focused on desire for genuine and meaningful change for the people.

The key policies, programs and initiatives of the government were discussed separately in the successful run of three-part series pre-SONA 2018 Forum.

SONA 2018 was delayed by an hour as advice of who will be seated beside President Duterte was not immediately finalized after Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sworn as the new House Speaker. The Congress ousted Pantaleon Alvarez few minutes before the SONA. Note that the spots besides the president are reserved for the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.

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The SONA proper started at exactly 5:22 in the afternoon and concluded at 6:09 pm or longer by few minutes in the originally declared 35-minute speech, due to some off-the-cuff remarks of the president.

Be guided with our summary and review of President Duterte's SONA 2018. Students may use this as reference for making a reaction paper:

"About 2 years ago, I solemnly took my oath as a worker of the national gov't. I was inspired to institute real changes for the greater good of the Filipino people," President Duterte opened his speech.

Duterte highlighted that the war from illegal drugs is far from over and will not be sidelined, instead, it will be as relentless and chilling.

Duterte said his concern is more on human lives and not human rights. "Illegal drugs wasted away lives, dysfunctionalized families and ruined relationship."

Duterte also addressed that corruption must stop to improve delivery of services. He also warned government agencies to stop red tape. Duterte on Ease of Doing Business Act: "I hereby direct all government units and government agencies to faithfully implement this law and simplify the process."

Duterte also said budget for Mindanao is being increased. By the end of his term, he wants to see the fulfillment of his promise. On Bangsamoro Organic Law, he said: "Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law."

The Mindanaoan president emphasized "War is not an option. We have been through the catastrophe in Marawi. We have seen the horror, devastation, human toll, displacement of both Christians and Muslims alike."

On Marawi siege, Duterte recognized soldiers and police who died fighting for the city. He said that government welcomes with open arms the terrorists who surrender to authorities.

Duterte hailed the successful hosting of ASEAN anniversary and summit last November. "We will have stronger bonds with ASEAN friends."

On relationship with China, Duterte said it has led to an unprecedented level of cooperation between nations on the war against transitional crimes. "Our shared intelligence with China led to discovery of clandestine shabu laboratories."

The iron-fist president shared admiration to our Filipino migrant workers for their selflessness and courage in enduring hardships of living away. "You have contributed greatly to the Philippine economy." He also mentioned the fight against 'endo' which has resulted to regularization of more than 300,000 workers.

Talking about the third telco player, Duterte said the chosen entity must provide the best possible services at reasonable prices. He also wants to lower interconnection rates between industry players.

Duterte also promised to restore environmental integrity of Boracay. "It has sadly become a representation of government's negligence, including mine." He said that protection of the environment is a top priority. Duterte was emotional as he discussed open pit mining that he said "destroying my country."

Duterte applauded the Congress for the immediate passing of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or the TRAIN law. "I am committed to a comprehensive tax reform and I ask Congress to continue the job." On TRAIN impact, he said: "You have made funds available to build better roads, bridges and improved health and education."

Duterte also warned rice cartels to stop messing with the people.

The passage of the universal healthcare bill was also encouraged by Duterte.

On federalism, he said: "Strong political determination, not political ambition, is the guiding light. I have no illusions of occupying this office one day longer than what the Constitution under which I was elected permits." But he is confident the people will support effort to pass a new Constitution.

Reactions on President Duterte's Third SONA

Thousands of protesters and militant groups rallied near the Batasan to condemn rampant killings being linked to Duterte's war against illegal drugs; as well as the tax reform law, raising duties on fuel, cars, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Analysts added that Dutertenomics performance after his two years in power is fair to poor citing the impact of the TRAIN law.

The inflation rate (rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising and, consequently, the purchasing power of currency is falling) also increased versus last year (4.9 vs. 3.2).

Some also reacted with the proposed federalism, that would decentralize the system of the government. Others said creation of new states or regional governments will just create another bureaucratic layer with the installation of state governors on top of provincial governors, municipal, and city mayors.

Meanwhile, the President was not able to sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in time for the SONA as it was not ratified before the adjournment of today's session of the House of Representatives.

"We consider this as a temporary setback in the administration's goal of laying the foundation for a more genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao," the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson said in a statement.

On the other hand, latest Pulse Asia survey revealed that majority of Filipinos consider the war on the drugs as the Duterte administration's most important achievement. The report also include good feedback for the fight against crime, salaray increase for police and soldiers, fight against graft and corruption and free tuition in public universities and colleges.

— The Summit Express


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