#SONA2018: Key points mentioned by President Duterte

Manila, Philippines - President Rodrigo Duterte, unlike his usual speeches, delivered his third State of the Nation Address that lasted only for 48 minutes, without profanities and name-calling.

Below are the key issues mentioned in Duterte's third SONA:

BANGSAMORO ORGANIC LAW - He promised the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law under his administration to achieve a long-lasting peace in Mindanao.

CHARTER CHANGE - Duterte expressed his gratitude to Renato Puno, the chairman of the consultative committee that drafted the Federal Constitution, and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. He also clarified that he has “no illusions of occupying this office one day longer than what constitution permits.”

CHINA - He boasted that shared intelligence with China led to the discovery of a clandestine shabu laboratory in the country. However, he said that improved relations with China do not mean the Philippines will waver its interest in the West Philippine Sea.

CONTRACTUALIZATION - Duterte said 300 000 workers were regularized under his administration after he signed Executive Order No. 51 on May 1 this year, which sought to protect workers against contractualization. But he recognized that this has not satisfied all sectors, adding he is not granted the power under the 1987 Charter. As a result, he asked the Congress to pass a law banning contractualization.

CORRUPTION - Duterte, who has fired top officials accused of corruption, said justice will catch those who steal government funds.

DISASTER - Citing Super Typhoon Yolanda, the chief executive called on the Congress to pass a law creating a department which will utilize a science-based approach to disaster management.

ENVIRONMENT - He urged local government units to proactively enforce our laws to protect the environment. Duterte said he could not allow the decay of Boracay to continue.

HEALTHCARE - Duterte urged the Congress to institutionalize the “No Balance Billing Policy" that aims to protect all Filipinos against financial health risks. He also recognized the need to improve our healthcare system addressed by the Universal Health Care Bill which is currently pending in the Congress.

ILLEGAL DRUGS - Like in his previous SONA, Duterte promised his war on illegal drugs will be “unrelenting and chilling.” He also slammed human rights defenders who expressed opposition to his government’s anti-drug campaign that reportedly killed thousands of people. “Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives,” Duterte said.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - The Philippines will reach out to all nations regardless of the political situation, Duterte said. He also mentioned the Philippines had developed stronger bonds with our neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

MINING - Duterte warned mining companies to “repair what you have damaged.” He also slammed open pit mining, which he said was destroying our environment.

RICE - He asked businesses to cooperate in charging fair prices in rice. Duterte also directed all intelligence agencies to unmask the people behind the economic sabotage.

TAX REFORM - By the end of July 2018, all tax reform packages would have been submitted to Congress, Duterte promised. He also said those tax reforms should be passed in succession, for his administration cannot deliver its promises without an equitable tax system.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES - Duterte promised a more secure and faster Internet service through a third major industry player. He said the chosen entity must provide accessible and reasonable prices.

TERRORISM - Duterte promised that international terrorist group ISIS will never gain a foothold in our country.

TRAIN LAW - Duterte applauded the Congress for the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which sought to improve health, education, security, and infrastructure. He also said the revenue from TRAIN Law has already helped poor families cope with rising prices and government subsidy will be increased to P 160 billion next year.

Duterte also briefly mentioned the newly-signed Tertiary Education Act.

In his annual report to Congress, Duterte also commended government officials including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

He also thanked Renato Puno, the chairman of the consultative committee that drafted the Federal Constitution, and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. /PPD

Topics: #SONA2018 , Duterte SONA , Manila Standard
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