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Spell out game plan, Rody urged

President Rodrigo Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday should spell out the “second half game plan” of his administration, “and the things he wants the nation to achieve in the last 1,000 days” of his six-year term, said Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. 

“I think that is what the people will be looking for in his speech. For him to state the vision, set the target and explain to us how to get there,” Angara said. 

“It would be better if it is a goal-setting speech. More looking forward than looking back. He should list down the urgent things to do,” he added. 

For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he wanted to hear the President talk about his unrelenting drug campaign.  

“I have been a senator for years and yet I haven’t heard illegal drugs in SONA. So I am excited if the President will talk about it,” related Sotto in an interview over dwIZ heard nationwide.

Sotto, who served as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board, stressed illegal drugs had been his advocacy since 1988.

“He will mention it, I’m sure, but I and the incoming Speaker (Presumptive House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano) have agreed to conduct a mini LEDAC a week after the SONA—referring to the Legislative- Executive Development Advisory Council, created through Republic Act 7640 approved by then President Fidel Ramos on Dec. 9, 1992. 

In related developments:

• Environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition is hoping Duterte will use his SONA to send a message declaring waste importation is banned in the Philippines.

“We hope President Duterte...will reinforce his resolute stance against foreign waste dumping and give the Environment department and the Customs bureau their marching orders to ensure zero entry of all wastes from overseas, including processed residuals cunningly called alternative fuels,” said Ecowaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero.

The group also appealed to the Chief Executive to set a definite deadline for the immediate re-export of waste shipments came from Australia and South Korea now languishing in Mindanao.

Some 211 tons of waste-derived processed engineered fuel from Australia and 5,177 tons of mixed plastic waste from South Korea are stranded at the Mindanao Container Terminal and Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis, Oriental.

To assure the Filipino people that foreign waste dumping would no longer happen under Duterte’s watch, Ecowaste reiterated the need for the government to enforce a complete and permanent ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste exports to the Philippines.  

“His fourth SONA is the right time for the chief policy maker to announce a total ban on foreign waste imports and his intent to ratify this year the Basel Ban Amendment and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, two landmark global agreements that seek to protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes,” Lucero said.

• Aviation authorities declared a no-fly zone within the 10-kilometer radius from the House of Representatives as part of the government’s security measure in connection with the SONA.

In its advisory released on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines stated it would be enforcing limited and no fly zones at the House of Representatives in Batasan Complex and its immediate vicinity two days before, during and a day after SONA.

Beginning 9 a.m. of July 20 until 11 a.m. of July 21, according to CAAP, drones and aircraft would be limited from flying at “a vertical limit of 700 ft above ground level within 10-km radius of Batasan Pambansa.”

CAAP spokesperson and chief information officer Eric Apolonio said training flights of flying schools within Luzon were also suspended from 12 a.m. of July 22 to 12 a.m. of July 23.

He added on Monday, the no-fly zone would be strictly imposed from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. within “four nautical miles radius from surface to 10,000 feet above mean sea level” of the House of Representatives.

• The local government of Quezon City has set up security and othet measures to ensure the seemless delivery of Duterte’s SONA, the QC Mayor’s office said in a statement.

As host city, the QC Department of Public Order and Safety shall deploy over 500 traffic enforcers along Commonwealth Avenue, Batasan Road and nearby areas as well as emergency health services along the road.

The QC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office will set up medical posts and first aid tents in front of Saint Peter Church and Police Station 6 at Batasan Road to assist in emergencies.

The QC Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department already conducted cleaning operations within the vicinity of the House of Representatives.

Saying “a great SONA is a frank SONA,” Angara expects Duterte “to be candid in telling his countrymen the problems which have not been solved  and the areas where the government has performed poorly.” 

“Can’t be all roses in the speech. People are mature enough to hear the real score.  And I think the President will not shirk from telling it as it is,” he said, adding “In mobilizing the people, the right approach is first to admit the problem, then rally the people to get behind the solution.”

Angara said the key element in realizing the “second half game plan” of the Duterte administration was the proposed 2020 budget, “the first for the next decade and one which will kick off our plans for the Twenties.”

“The 2020 budget should have a 20/20 vision. The framework should be a 10-year development plan. What do we really want to achieve in the next decade? What is the stated and condition of the Philippines in 2030?”

“Of all the bills he will send to Congress, I think the most important is the 2020 national budget. It will set the direction for the next 10 years. It is the next decade’s kick-off budget. The one that will jumpstart the activities crucial to our mid-decade and end-decade goals,” Angara said.

For neophyte Senator Christopher Go, he expects the President to enumerate the specific gains of his administration and his proposed legislative measures to further deliver the genuine positive change in the country that he promised during the start of his term. 

“I look forward to him calling upon Congress to enact laws that are people-centered and inclusive so that all Filipinos can feel the development happening in our country,” said Go.

He said this might also include measures to make government more responsive to the needs of today and to make government services more accessible to everyone. 

He said the President might also expound on possible measures that can further push government’s efforts in the unwavering fight against corruption in the bureaucracy, the unceasing war against illegal drugs, maintaining peace and order, securing the nation and building safe communities, providing basic needs and the delivery of adequate services and most importantly, concerns on housing, OFW welfare, and those relevant to health and education.

Based on recent discussions, the President may possibly mention in his SONA speech the passage of the following proposed measures: the creation of the Department of OFWs and Department of Disaster Resilience which he already mentioned in past speeches; the institutionalization of the Malasakit Center to be harmonized with the implementation of the UHC act; establishing an Emergency Medical Services System; Mandating more Drug Rehabilitation Centers; Death Penalty for Heinous Crimes involving Illegal Drugs and Plunder; increased salaries for teachers, nurses and other civilian government workers as well as additional benefits for barangay officials and employees such as BHWs; and the creation of a National Housing plan or roadmap; among others. 

“We expect the President to be very candid in his message to the people and firm in laying down his legislative agenda to guide Congress in doing its work,” he added..

Another newbie, Senator Imee R. Marcos said  the government’s aim to reduce poverty to 14 percent was doable, recalling how Ilocos Norte cut the number of its poor from 23 percent to only 7 percent of its population when she was governor.

Keri yan!,” Marcos said. “As long as attention is given to agricultural production, rural development, and land reform because 60 percent of the country’s poor is in the agriculture sector, with 40 percent in Mindanao.”

“I hope a new agriculture secretary is named soon,” Marcos added, “to immediately address plunging rice farmgate prices and stagnant rice consumer prices that should be going down because of cheaper rice imports.”

The senator also said that social protection must also be addressed, with a review of the 4Ps program and the proper funding of SSS and PhilHealth.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to poverty,” Marcos explained. 

“It will take focus and hard work, a macro-view of how government programs are interlinked, legislative support, and disaster anticipation and preparation amid the unpredictable El Niño and typhoon season.”  

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri said the President had delivered on some of his biggest promises especially his legislative promises like the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic  Law and the Universal  Health Care Act.

Zubiri said these were laws that the Filipino people had really been waiting for and the President was adamant that they be prioritized in Congress.

He said these were common priority bills that had not cleared the hurdle yet—bills still up for bicameral sessions or bills he had vetoed like the one granting coconut farmers an industry trust fund.

Outside of the  legislative promises, Zubiri said the Build, Build, Build program had shown lots of progress and attracted many foreign investors which had translated to a dramatic increase in job opportunities for our people. 

“And he has even delivered smaller-scale promises such as his call for the return of  bells of Balangiga,” he said.

“And it seemed that the Filipino people agreed that  he has done well by his past SONA promises” based on survey results. 

For the coming SONA, Zubiri said he wanted to hear Duterte talk about his priority measures so they could align their legislative priorities.

“I would also like to hear his directive for the recently-appointed Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Jeremiah Belgica, who will be in charge of implementing the Ease of Doing Business Act.”

He also wants the President to prioritize legislation for the salary increase of teachers and barangay officials.

In general, he wants the President’s full commitment in supporting the implementation of BOL, especially in these early stages.

Furthermore, the Senate leader said he wanted  the President’s social and economic vision in support of his Build, Build, Build program.

“I am hoping that he has social and economic programs in mind to support the physical connectivity of this program.”

Apolonio said the no-fly zone policy was being implemented to “ensure security and safety during the opening and first regular session of the 18th Congress and the President’s SONA.

The CAAP has issued Notice to Airmen (Notam) as advisories for the said policy.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila police director Guillermo Eleazar spearheaded the Inter-Agency Coordination meeting for SONA 2019 held at the Central Police District headquarters in Camp Karingal, Quezon City on Friday.

Representatives of different government offices and law enforcement agencies attended the meeting, including those from the Armed Forces, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Metro Manila Development Authority and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

“Among the issues discussed were the Police Strategic Deployment Plan concerning not just our troops but also those of other law enforcement agencies and protesters, the route and other traffic management plan for protesters and VIPs and the PNP operational guidelines considering its continuing anti-criminality campaign despite this big event,” said Eleazar.

Thousands are expected to hold a nationwide protest to denounce the 4th SONA. 

In a statement released by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the center of protests in Metro Manila would be Commonwealth Avenue, where thousands are expected to join the United People’s SONA, a broad event organized by different anti-Duterte groups. 

Participants have been warned by the police not to bring jackets and backpacks during the rally as a security precaution but protesters see this as unreasonable and may only be intended to sow fear among the public. 

Unlike the first two SONA’s of Duterte where activists were able to get close to Batasang Pambansa, rally organizers chose the Commonwealth Avenue, several kilometers away, as their converging point. 

The organizers expect a generally peaceful yet militant mass action, with national sovereignty, human rights and the economy as key issues in the protest. 

Bayan calls on the Duterte administration to respect freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. 

It said: “The practice of harassing protesters, attacking human rights defenders and criminalizing dissent should stop immediately. The world will be watching how the Duterte regime upholds freedom of expression and right to peaceably assemble on Monday, during the State of the Nation Address. The people are intent on asserting their constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms in the face of an increasingly fascist and puppet regime.” 

The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted in 1995, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries. 

The ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling.  

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013, seeks to reduce global mercury pollution from human activities that emit and release mercury and its compounds.

The group is optimistic that Duterte will use his SONA to rouse the whole nation into embracing much-needed waste prevention and reduction strategies at all levels, including banning single-use plastics, to curb chemical and waste pollution that is also threatening the world’s oceans. 

“We call on President Duterte to throw his weight behind the campaign to stop plastic pollution and to urge the 18th Congress to pass without delay a robust law banning single-use plastics, as well as to enact other plastic pollution prevention measures, including the ban on microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products,” added Lucero.

The group also expected that the presidential speech would highlight the importance of implementing best ecological practices in waste management sans waste-to-energy incineration in all local government units.

The Quezon City Police District also released an alternate route map to aid motorists in their commute during the State of the Nation Address.

Light vehicles coming from Quezon Memorial Circle going to Fairview may take North Avenue, turn right to Mindanao Avenue, turn right to Old Sauyo Road, turn left to Chestnut, turn right to Dahlia Street, turn left to Fairlane Street, then exit to Commonwealth Avenue and onward to their destination.

Light vehicles coming from Fairview going to Quezon Memorial Circle may take the alternate route by turning right to Fairlane Street, turn right to Dahlia Street, turn left to Chestnut Street or turn right to Regalado Avenue, right turn to Old Sauyo Road, turn right to Mindanao Avenue, and take a U-turn to Quirino Highway going to Mindanao Avenue, turn left to North Avenue going to Quezon Memorial Circle and onward to their destination.

Heavy vehicles coming from Quezon Memorial Circle to Fairview may take Commonwealth Avenue where a zipper lane shall be opened.

READ: Jobs, wages, prices top picks to hear in SONA

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , 4th State of the Nation Address , Juan Edgardo Angara , Ease of Doing Business Act , Dangerous Drugs Board
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