Duterte’s last SONA (hopefully)

As President Duterte boasts of his administration’s spectacular achievements over the last five years at his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), his avid drumbeaters offer only lame excuses for the failure to act on –

  • Corruption at Philhealth and other government agencies
  • Attempted drug smuggling facilitated at the Bureau of Customs
  • Pastillas scam by Bureau of Immigration at NAIA
  • Human rights violations (extra judicial killings)
  • Failure to prosecute those involved in various scandals
  • Release of top officials (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Imelda Marcos, Bong Revilla, etc.) found guilty during Noynoy Aquino administration

The three-hour long SONA, spiced by muted curses, gave a fair depiction of the country’s current state – from Duterte’s point of view.

He told the truth:

  • In his inaccurate assessment of the country’s illegal drug problem
  • In the relative peace and order situation in the country
  • In the selfless work of medical frontliners in handling the pandemic
  • In taking care of soldiers and policemen (including providing free legal aid)
  • In demanding quick public service, abhorring queues and suggesting simple protocols
  • In the return of the Balangiga bells from the US
  • In his desire to create new departments to handle migrant workers and disaster response

But he should be fact-checked for many of his assertions in infrastructure, anti-corruption, education, social services, peace and order and economic accomplishments.

At least he did not take credit for the speed of economic growth prior to the pandemic. He also denied getting help from China in his ascent to the presidency.

His foreign policy particularly on the West Philippine Sea remains constant: it’s contradictory. He reaffirms his statement before the United Nations that the arbitral ruling is now part of the country’s set of laws but he still maintains asserting it will entail waging war against China.

A foreigner listening to him will sense his sincerity but would fail to reconcile it with the situation on the ground. He asserts the numerous dead drug pushers mean lesser death of innocents which to Duterte outweighs the meaningless deaths of collateral damage in the drug war.

He also contradicted himself in admitting the problem of corruption will persist through future administrations, juxtapose this to his campaign promise.

His ad libs – apparently expected by the teleprompter operator – betrayed his micro management style. He keeps referring to his achievements as a mayor and how he cleaned the streets of Davao of petty criminals.

Yes, his heart goes out to victims of rape and murder but he continues to ignore the plight of Filipino fishermen unable to make a decent living in the country’s exclusive economic zone now patrolled by Chinese Coast Guard.

Yes, he succeeded at denying ABS-CBN a franchise – while claiming it was for tax avoidance but admitting in the same breadth he was cheated during the campaign period – and attacked the onerous concession contracts of Maynilad and Manila Water (which Duterte claims are part of a cartel from Malaysia and Indonesia), but he silently promoted the POGO industry that allowed Chinese business to proliferate while trampling our laws and rights of Filipino workers.

Duterte was more humane this time towards VP Leni Robredo and the political opposition. He refused to give even a hint on his political plan.

His administration’s platform on iron-fist response to illegal drugs, corruption and peace and order cannot escape scrutiny from Filipinos and the international community.

Finally, many of his ad libs will undoubtedly be tagged as jokes by the presidential spokesperson, including his not feeling well due to the Delta variant, foretelling his possible exit the way of Erap and Gloria – the wheelchair.

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