This is the fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his four-year administration that saw the deaths of 30,000 Filipinos in a brutal three-year drug war (promised in just 6months), hundreds of people and thousands more sufferings in a war that decimated a once prosperous city in the South, failed peace negotiations with long-time Communist guerrillas, corruption scams that involve health officials, proliferation of Chinese pogos, illegal foreign occupation of Philippine islands and destructive mismanagement of a pandemic that has caused already 80,000 persons infected, 7.2 million lost jobs, and a slowly dying economy.
During the 2016 presidential elections, Duterte vowed to solve the drug problem in six months, make peace with the Bangsamoros and the Maoist guerrillas within a year, eradicate graft and corruption, re-invigorate the economy with more investments, defend the territorial integrity of the country by frustrating the advances of the Chinese even jet-skiing his way to the disputed isles, and take care of the needs and welfare of Filipinos everywhere.
These promises under the overarching theme of “Pagbabago” or “change” went from official presidential promises to history’s waste-basket. After every failed promise, what Duterte usually does is raise his two hands in surrender.
Last March, Duterte declared war against a pandemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as a lethal version of the corona virus. Duterte formed his task force composed of retired military generals and immediately thereafter, created various checkpoints and military roadblocks in all points of the capital and in several provinces, and ordered the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) to direct barangay officials to help combat the rapidly-spreading infectious disease.
Duterte also requested Congress to grant his special emergency powers to deal with the pandemic. A law was passed, the One Bayanihan Act that gave the President the power to use public coffers in addressing the pandemic. Reports say government spent 1.02 trillion pesos and rising from just March to July of this year.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the President’s SONA presents the administration’s plan on the COVID-19 pandemic. Many says this should have been done months ago when the government unilaterally decided to shut down the entire country, beginning with the National Capital Region (NCR) the country’s financial hub. Five months later, and the government is still grappling with managing the pandemic, with several areas under quarantine and the threat of another imposition of a general community quarantine looms.
The administration vowed to fully re-open the economy by August, the start of the third quarter by allowing establishments and more human movement. Finance managers of this administration expect to collect billions worth of taxes that the government again intends to give to ailing industries to reportedly stimulate the battered and weakened economy.
Just a year and a half on his administration, and Duterte is even not nearly half way thru his electoral promises. Most of the welfare programs that Mr. Duterte is now currently implementing are programs that his predecessors already created.
The only major accomplishment that Mr. Duterte may claim as his own is the speedy passage of the anti-terror bill of 2020 that attracted 18 petitions before the Supreme Court due to its manifest unconstitutionality.
Just four years and the path chosen and taken by Mr. Duterte is riddled with bloody uncertainty. The worse part is that, whatever Duterte does, it impacts on the lives of ordinary citizens like us. As what a SONA briefer video says, calls for pagbabago or change has led to kalbaryo.
Let us add some more–instead of Pagbabago, things actually prove that it was, panggagago.