Duterte's SONA 2021 highlights, summary for reaction paper

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26, at the Batasang Pambansa.

Duterte's SONA 2021 highlights
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his sixth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 26, 2021.

As the country faces a global pandemic, Duterte went on to address the Filipino public in his last SONA. The President stressed his administration's achievements and legacy, as well as the challenges they had to endure through the years. Duterte talked about China and the disputed waters, corruption in the government, COVID-19 response, criminality and drugs, among others. He also paid homage to COVID-19 frontliners and international and local sectors who supported him in his projects.


Be guided with our summary and review of President Duterte's SONA 2021. Students may use this as reference in making a reaction paper:

The President began his speech by recalling his decision to run for the country's highest political seat back in 2016. He said he has high hopes and vision for the Filipino people and was committed to providing good public service. Duterte continued that he was able to make true of his promises and changes, "which I thought that was really at that time doable."

"To offer free education – it’s there already – the Universal Health Care, nandiyan na po; the fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption; and the development of infrastructure, including free irrigation and other big ticket projects, which I thought I did now have the funds to do it, but per chance, among others, they were done in my term," Duterte said.

As he nears the end of his term, Duterte went on to admit it was not easy to make big changes and reforms only within six years. Much was expected from him but given the Constitution's time frame, he said he made the most out of what he could. He explained how he had to face oligarchs and criticisms to fight for the poor.

"That is why I cajoled, I shoved, I pushed, and I tangled with men of wealth and influence who were oblivious to the anguish and pleas of the weak and impoverished. And for that, I was pilloried to no end. But I did not succumb to the attacks. And neither did I allow criticisms, however intense, to dampen my determination and initiatives, because my purpose was pure and unpolluted," Duterte remarked.

According to Duterte, the Philippine economy was already poised to "leapfrog into the company of the world’s fastest growing economies until the COVID-19 pandemic stalled everything."

The President went on to recognize the efforts, contributions and sacrifices of the frontliners, public and private sectors during the difficult time of pandemic.

Duterte thanked the health workers and other frontliners who "selflessly gave their all in the fight against COVID-19." He also assured the private sector that the government is committed "to regain the commercial vibrance of the country prior to the pandemic." Lastly, he lauded the local chief executives and international development partners who supported the government's COVID-19 response.

"But then, let me ask, perhaps you and to myself: What exactly is the state of the nation today in the light of the pandemic which has paralyzed business activities and crippled even the strongest of the world’s economies? So where do we go from here?" Duterte asked.

The President looked back at his past five years in office and described it as "challenging and humbling."

He first mentioned his achievements in enhancing the capabilities and morale of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and other armed services through the modernization program and raising of their salaries. He hopes that the Congress will support him in making reforms for the uniformed men.

"I am asking Congress to pass a Unified System for Separation, Retirement and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel to maintain government fiscal flexibility and provide adequate benefits and remuneration to our men and women in uniform. This shall apply only to the new entrants of the Military and [Uniformed] Services," Duterte said.


The President also talked about how the NTF-ELCAC made progress in their campaign against communism despite criticisms. He also credited the police and military for destroying so many communist fronts. "I think they have destroyed more than 15 apparatus of the fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines," he recalled.

Duterte went off-script to talk about the Communist Party and how it's leaders are corrupt and even use their own members' money for their own gain, such as sending their own children to school abroad.

Drug War

At one point, Duterte admitted that he was wrong in thinking he could fight drugs within six months because of his experiences in Davao. He said the city was able to attain a sense of normalcy in the city because you can either coerce, intimidate or bribe drug lords.

He said, "We are fighting a drug war that is being participated by nine generals of the PNP. I did not know I was fighting my own government."

Duterte stressed that he is a Filipino and he loves his country. "I do not want my country in disarray because of drugs. I do not want families to break up and become dysfunctional. Yun ang masakit sa akin."

Duterte also commented on Senate President Sotto's VP bid as he described him as "a capable man, a good man, and a Filipino."


The President also highlighted the fulfillment of his promise in Mindanao with the passage of the organic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). He also urged the fast tracking of the rehabilitation of Marawi City.


The President also talked about the tax reforms and how he pursued infrastructure projects that made a huge difference in the economy.

"Five years ago, the first thing I made sure is to increase our infrastructure spending to an average 5% of the country's GDP. This is significantly higher than each and past four administrations," he said.

According to the President, it was through his passage of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program that enabled the government to fund critical infrastructure projects. He mentioned the improvement of MRT-3, the LRT-2 East Extension project, Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway, Poro Point Freeport Zone in La Union, Sorsogon City Coastal Road, among others.

Foreign relations

As Duterte thanked the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the rest of the world for showing their support to the Philippines, he also asserted our country's sovereign rights.

"But gone are the days when the Philippines decides on the shadows of the great powers. We will assert what is rightfully ours," he said.

The President recalled how the government sent back container vans of garbage back to Canada, and called out the Middle East to dismantle their Kafala system because "Filipinos are not slaves."

Duterte again stressed that he cannot afford to go to war against China. He also mentioned China's help in helping the Philippines in our Covid-19 vaccination program.

COVID-19 response

Duterte urged local governments to hasten their rollout and strengthen their inoculation program. He also allayed the fears of the public on the Delta variant but warned that he will be strict to keep everything in order. He asks everyone to pray for salvation.

Priority bills

In summary, Duterte has a total of 12 priority bills he hopes to pass before his term ends.
  • The passing of a unified system of separation, retirement, and pension for uniformed personnel
  • Free legal assistance for police and soldiers
  • Foreign Investments Act
  • Public Service Act
  • Retail and Trade Liberalization Act
  • Creation of a department for overseas Filipinos
  • E-governance act
  • Creation of the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines
  • Creation of a department of disaster resilience
  • Law mandating evacuation centers in provinces, cities, and municipalities mandatory
  • Bureau of Fire Protection modernization

Duterte's final SONA lasted for 2 hours and 46 minutes, the longest SONA since 1986 and breaking the record of Noynoy Aquino's 2015 SONA, which lasted for 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

He ended his address with, "Together, let us rise as a nation."

— Sally, The Summit Express


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  1. thankyou for this i'm a student and this is perfect for students like me who needs to do a reaction paper

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