July 28, 2020

Highlights of President Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address

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  • Amid the looming threat of the pandemic in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte has delivered his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, July 27, at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City in front of a limited audience of key Congress and Cabinet officials.

    President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives Complex in Quezon City/PCOO

    The address, which lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes, focused on the accomplishments of the administration for the past year, its coronavirus pandemic response, and foreign relations with China. It also contained a few hits on the government’s critics. Here are some of the highlights:

    COVID-19 pandemic response

    Duterte opened his speech by acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on the country and its people. “Our dream of prosperity for our country was suddenly snuffed by a pandemic virulent virus. No nation was spared. Neither rich nor poor were exempt from the onslaught of this deadly disease,” he said. He then assured that a vaccine is “around the corner” and soon, the virus will be no more.

    Duterte thanked the nation’s frontliners are risking their lives to serve the people and the country as well as the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Task Force, and the local government units.

    Medical frontliners from The Medical City/SM Foundation

    With regards to the government’s efforts to uplift the lives of Filipinos amid the rising unemployment and poverty brought by the pandemic, Duterte cited the Social Amelioration Program where Php 205 billion was allotted for poor and low-income household, the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program that extended financial assistance to over 650,000 affected individuals in the formal sector, 110,000 OFWs abroad, and almost 83,000 repatriated OFWs, and the quick passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

    Foreign policy

    In relation to the dispute over the South China Sea with China, Duterte wishes to be more diplomatic in approaching the matter. “Unless we are prepared to go to war, I would suggest that we better just call off and treat this, I said, with diplomatic endeavors. China is claiming it. We are claiming it. China has the arms, we do not have it. So, it is simple as that. They are in possession of the property.”

    President Duterte with China’s President Xi Jinping/PCOO

    However, he assured that the government has worked tirelessly to protect our rights in the South China Sea and broadened the boundaries of Philippine diplomacy.

    “We built productive ties with everyone willing to engage us on the basis of equality and mutual respect. And, we redefined our relationships with our most important partners, placing the country in a far better position to advance our interests in an evolving regional order and emerging global problems,” Duterte added.

    On oligarchs

    In the first part of the address, Duterte has made it a point to criticize ABS-CBN, one of the country’s biggest TV networks that was recently shut down due to franchise issues and led to the loss of more than 11,000 jobs, and its owners, the Lopez family, whom he labeled as oligarchs.

    IMAGE/abs-cbn.com

    “Media is a powerful tool in the hands of oligarchs like the Lopezes who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures. I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election,” he reiterated.

    He also called out Senator Franklin Drilon who according to him has defended the Lopezes and has taken advantage of a pre-occupied government that is focused on battling the pandemic.

    You may view the full transcript of President Duterte’s 5th SONA here.


    Source: PCOO

               
               
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