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Statement regarding President Duterte’s 2nd SONA
This year’s State of the Nation Address was a long and winding one. Despite the duration, the President was still not able to give a significant report on the promises that he made in the last year’s SONA. He was in fact making more promises. These are the issues that I want to shed light on.
1. War on drugs. Ang mundo ng Pangulo ay umiikot lang sa war on drugs. He believes that it is the panacea to all problems in our country. The President has already shut his mind from other perspectives which respect human rights, and instead emphasized that the war would be unrelenting. With this, expect thousands more deaths in the coming years, more sons and daughters being orphaned, and the further erosion of the PNP.
2. Marawi crisis. There is no timeline and no clear and concrete plan laid out to rehabilitate Marawi except the proposal for a supplemental budget.
3. Support on the armed forces. I agree that we should equip and modernize our AFP and increase their capability to address various security threats. This would include recruitment of more personnel and improvement of medical facilities and services. This is an issue that has long been unaddressed and merits attention.
4. Peace talks. Ilang beses na nating narinig na puputulin na ang pakikipag-usap sa CPP-NPA-NDF. Ilang beses sinabi at ilang beses na ding pabago-bago. The President gives these statements because his audience is the military, but in reality he is still negotiating with them. Communist leaders remain in his Cabinet. We support the peace talks, but it has to be along clear parameters that will not be disadvantageous to the Filipino people.
5. Independent foreign policy. Ito ay bola lamang. The President’s foreign policy is clearly China-centric and anti-US. That is not independent at all. He raised that the West Philippine Sea issue should be tackled but there are no clear plans on this because his very intention is to appease China and jeopardize our territorial rights in the process.
6. We support the demand to return the Balangiga bell because it is part of our heritage. However, he should have the same courage to demand from China that they return the Scarborough Shoal to the Filipinos and respect the PCA ruling. Ang Balangiga ay naganap noong 1901 pa. Ang pag-occupy sa Scarborough ay nagsimula noong 2012 at patuloy pa rin hanggang ngayon. If we look at the gallery of the diplomatic corps, only one person is happy – the Chinese ambassador.
7. Smoking ban policy, no increase in allowances and bonuses of GOCCs. We support these policies that should have been in place long before.
8. Corruption in government. This has become mere rhetoric. Wala tayong nakitang nakasuhang malalaking tao hinggil dito.
Procurement. There should be specifications on this. While we support that corruption in bidding and TROs for sale problem should be addressed, it is unclear what the President intends to do.
9. Comprehensive Tax Reform Package. The President is pushing for this because we believe it is the condition of China to ensure their pledges to the Philippines. We maintain that the tax package is anti-poor due to the excise tax that will burden the poor. What should be done instead is to improve the tax collection of BIR and Customs.
10. Role of opposition. The role of the opposition is to point out the issues that the administration chooses not to mention. Pointing out the lapses of the government actually helps the country. Tulad ng lahat ng Pilipino, kami ay naghahangad din na mapaunlad ang bansa. The President should remember that even those who did not vote for him are also Filipinos, his people. He is supposedly a father to all, even the 49% that he does not care of.
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