President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his third State of the Nation Address later this month, and according to his minions in Malacañang, it will be delivered “straight from the heart.”
This does not mean a thing. We were promised many things during the first and second Sona. But think about it—were the promises for change even fulfilled?
Take for instance the vow to eradicate illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.
The more promises there are, the more things remain the same.
Take the campaign against illegal drugs. Has anything changed? Sure, thousands of illegal drug pushers have been killed, but the real culprits—drug lords, narco-politicians—are still very much around.
They may kill the very last pusher, but that will not eradicate the menace because the demand comes from both rich and poor. Sadly, Mr. Duterte’s war is trained on the poor. I think this will haunt him even after the end of his term.
And then, the war on criminality has spawned a culture of impunity. Aside from drug-related killings, we see judges and prosecutors, clergymen and now local government executives being killed.
As for the war on corruption, sure, those who have a whiff of corruption about them have been removed from their posts. But somehow they almost end up somewhere else—they are just recycled and appointed to other agencies.
If the President should indeed speak from the heart, he should focus on how he plans to prevent this country from being known as The Killing Fields.
I am not saying that Mr. Duterte is responsible for this climate of lawlessness, but did he not tell the police that he wanted more of those involved in illegal drugs killed?
This is the true state of the nation. Is this what he will say from the heart?
The President should tell us—what is happening with the economy with the inflation rate of 5.2 percent? What will be the effect on the tens of millions of poor Filipinos?
He should also speak from the heart about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea with China’s incursions. Why is he allowing China to be so aggressive in occupying and militarizing the shoals and reefs? President Duterte should answer this question: At what cost do the loans, investments and aid from China come?
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I am sure President Duterte will capitalize on these two things:
First is his promise to Muslims that they would have an autonomous region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. This is now being threshed out by both chambers of Congress so that unconstitutional provisions could be removed.
Another development he would surely dwell on is the draft constitution submitted to him by the consultative committee headed by former chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
There are fears, however, that the new constitution might enable Mr. Duterte to run for president again.
There are many other controversial provisions in the draft constitution.
I am only relying on reports here because I have not read the draft. For instance, there is the issue of forming 18 federated regions. At what cost? The government could be spending billions of pesos we could not afford to part with in the first place.
The Con-com proposed federal constitution could create more problems than solutions.
At least, the President has realized that it is futile to talk peace with the communists. They are not at all sincere in negotiating with the government and they insist on their conditions.
The Duterte administration also appears to be doing well on the issue of terrorism. I give credit where it is due.
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