What is SONA?
The State of the Nation Address is a Constitutionally mandated obligation pursuant to Article 6 Section 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which traditionally, is a speech that is prepared and recited by the President of the Republic of the Philippines. It particularly addresses all-encompassing concerns and issues with regard to the state of the nation and likewise proposes for plans of action to the legislature in relation to the present and future diplomacies of the administration for a particular fiscal year.
It is that time of the year where spectators from different parts of the country witness President Duterte deliver his speech at the Plenary Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City. Days prior to the SONA, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo already gave a glimpse of what to expect from the President’s speech. Among others, it mainly includes the issues on the West Philippine Sea, the ICC and War on Drugs.
During the event, it could be noted that only 22 out of 24 Senators were present in the first session. Only Sen. De Lima (who is still being detained for alleged drug charges) and Senator Pacquiao (who decided to take a rest after his boxing match with Thurman last Sunday) were absent. It is also worthy to note four (4) newcomers joined the first session, namely: Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, Sen. Bong Go, Sen. Imee Marcos and Sen. Francis Tolentino. While outside the 4-walls of the building, both supporters and critics of Duterte rallied in the streets of Quezon City to express their support and opposition during His Excellencies’ speech.
Just like every SONA when President Duterte delivers his speech, he begins by saying thanks to all his supporters, including his critics. Without them, change would not have been possible.
President Duterte highlighted the War Against Drugs and Corruption Campaign, and addressed that such evil is still prevalent in society but promises to pacify the situation and continue pursuing the end goal of fighting crime up to the end of his term. In supplement, he made mention of reinstating death penalty but limiting it to heinous crimes which are related to drugs and plunder.
He also called out the inefficiency of some government official work. “We in government talk too much, act too little and too slow. We are long on rhetoric but short of accomplishments.” In addition, he stated his environmental plan accomplishments like the rehabilitation of Boracay which he now claims is restored to its original and cleaner state. Then, he made mention of the Bangsamoro issue that he will help in providing a better future for his Muslim brothers and sisters.
President Duterte was not very vocal compared to his normal speeches and interviews with regard to the West Philippine Sea dispute, but rather emphasized on avoiding armed conflict with another State, which is China. Among the remaining plans for his term, President Duterte appeals to the legislature to enact the National Defense Act and to revive the mandatory ROTC, the Trabaho Bill, Salary Standardization Act for the betterment of the country.
Overall, his speech did not go deeper a particular issue but rather highlighted his accomplishments for the past year and general plans of action in his remaining term. Needless to say, despite thousands applauding this year’s administrations’ accomplishments, many still criticized the acts of the President. However, it should not be looked at as a negative response but as a positive feedback that the people are aware of the reality; a reality that is sparked by political will. The citizens should care of what is happening to society because whatever its decision will be, will have a chilling effect in the years and decades to come.
As a public figure, President Duterte should be open to opinions and backlash. There will be no perfect leader for all. It is what he/she makes out of it that will leave a legacy.
May God Bless the Philippines!
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