The good, the bad, and the ugly on Duterte’s shortest and cuss-free SONA

Maria Romero
PUBLISHED July 24, 2018 04:56 pm | UPDATED July 24, 2018 05:00 pm
Graphics by Mark Renacido

(Inside Manila) President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) has always been anticipated to be tarnished with expletives and charismatic adlibs which embody his peerless power to tell stories. This year, he seemed to have departed from his norm in delivering his annual speech that lasted for only around 48 minutes.

So here are all the good, the bad, and the ugly statements that made us nod, frown, and lift an eyebrow at the same time.

The Good

SONA number three was cuss-free.

Let us begin by putting this bluntly: the good, and probably the best part about this year’s SONA is that it’s short and expletive-free. We finally heard President Duterte speak like a fine politician with respect to his spectators. (Yay!)

In his speech, he mentioned that despite our “improved relationship with China”, the government will not waiver in its commitment to defend our interests in the West Philippine Sea. Additionally, he castigated the mining moguls to repair what they have damaged and urged locals to actively participate in the rehabilitation of Boracay Island which marked the “beginning of a new national effort.”

Another good news is that the president vowed to sign Bangsamoro Organic Law within 48 hours after lawmakers ratify it. The said law is expected to aid the decade-long dispute between Moros and militant groups Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. More so, he promised to make immediate actions in providing universal health care system for every Filipino and establishing Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund.

Aside from that, he stressed that he has clearly no intention in staying in power beyond 2022 despite the persistent push for federalism.

While these are all nice to hear, we are all crossing our fingers to see actual manifestations of these promising statements.

The Bad
The war against illegal drugs continues.

President Duterte opened his speech with his untiring thrust for his signature project – the War on Drugs Campaign. Despite numerous humanitarian groups crying foul over the implementation of the project, Duterte confirmed that instead of slowing down, they will relentlessly continue the battle because apparently “the war against illegal drugs is far from over.”

Furthermore, he proudly reported that the administration’s campaign to end contractualization in workplaces has resulted in the regularization of more than 300,000 workers as of early this month. He stressed that as much as he would like to make ends meet, the power is not vested upon him by the Constitution.

Also, as we have all felt somehow in the past few months, we are facing a sharp inflation rate hike due to fluctuating prices of commodities which were brought by tax reform and lower peso value. However, the highest leader of the country echoed that Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law will not be stopped. In fact, he went on to applaud the “timely passage” of the law.

He also wants Congress to pass Package 2 of TRAIN in 2018 which will remove certain tax incentives from companies and reduce the corporate income tax from 30% to 25%. But business groups have initially denounced the idea which would only scare away potential foreign investors.

The Ugly

All the drama.

Above all, one of the reasons why this year’s SONA seems to be different from any other speeches was the one hour and 20 minutes delay caused by the commotion in the House Leadership row. Coincidentally, Davao del Norte first District representative Pantaleon Alvarez was replaced by Pampanga second district representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as House Speaker at the same time the president was set to deliver his annual SONA.

Although Arroyo already was sworn to office on the same day, Alvarez remained his seat in the rostrum and was regarded by the president as House Speaker. Confusing and dramatic, right?

Are you satisfied with the president’s third SONA? Share it with us!



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