If you were able to stick it out and listen to the entirety of President Rodrigo Duterte’s one hour and 40 minute-long 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA), congratulations. As expected, the speech was a bit hard to follow as he went off script and was having trouble reading off a teleprompter. The president said at one point, “Kung hindi ninyo naiintindihan ang binabasa ko, mas lalo na ako.”
Last year, the Preen Team shared a round-up of SONA 2019 WTF moments. Keeping with this tradition (and we wish there was no need for this), we are once again listing points from the SONA that had us asking ourselves, “Am I hearing this right?”
Whether you played a drinking game or plan on opening a bottle after your shift to help you (un)process what you just heard, here’s a handy guide in case you want to revisit some of SONA 2020’s highlights.
Duterte v.s. Sen. Drilon on the Anti-Dynasty Law
Right after expressing his gratitude for Filipinos who served and experienced losses during the pandemic, Pres. Duterte fired off against Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who he accused of taking advantage of a pre-occupied government.
“In an interview, he arrogantly mentioned among others that oligarchs need not be rich. Then he linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was my daughter and son. This happened after the Committee on Franchise voted 70-11 to deny the grant of franchise to ABS-CBN. Obviously, he was defending the Lopezes that they are not oligarchs,” the president said.
On Jul.15, Drilon had pushed the president to approve an anti-dynasty law, stating that political dynasties nurture oligarchies.
Three of Duterte’s children hold governmental positions: House Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Vice Mayor Baste Duterte. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo has hinted that Davao mayor Sara Duterte might rise to the challenge of running for president in 2022.
Despite Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stating that Duterte was “completely neutral” on the topic of and that he had no involvement in the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, it seems Pres. Duterte is sticking to bringing up the narrative that the network refused to play his campaign ads because the Lopez family would gain from his loss. “Media is a powerful tool in the hands of oligarchs like the Lopezes who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures. I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election,” he said. Can he please keep his personal issues separate from policymaking?
Another plea to Pres. Xi Jinping and relinquishing Philippine territories to China
The president has been criticized for being too reliant on the United States and Chinese governments. He admitted today that he asked Pres. Xi Jinping to allow the country to be the first to get or buy a COVID-10 vaccine through credit four days ago. It may sound like a reasonable thing to ask but one additional concern is asking for more credit when the country’s debt is currently worth almost Php9 trillion.
On the topic of the West Philippine dispute, it seems that he has given up on plans to defend the territory and our fisherfolk who depend on it for their livelihood. “China has the arms. We do not have it. It is as simple as that. They are in possession of the property. So what can we do? We have to go to war and I cannot afford it.” he said “Inutil ako diyan. I’m willing to admit it. Talagang inutil ako diyan.”
Threatening to close down telecommunication companies
He took on a different tone when talking about telecommunication companies. We heard his first string of cusses when he said that he will be pushed to close down and expropriate telco lines if their services don’t get fixed by December. “Kayong may pera, p***. May pera kayo? Negosyo kayo. Wala kayong pera? P***, umalis kayo dito. You know, you give us half deals, half-cooked transactions, lousy service. Tapos ang tao nagbabayad,” he threatened.
If he ends up going through with this, we only hope that his administration doesn’t make the decision abruptly and end up making us all endure a limbo of only having landline telephones like he says we might.
Claiming there was no abuse under the Martial Law in Mindanao
He didn’t expound much after claiming, “Martial law in Mindanao ended without abuses by the civilian sector, by the police, by the military.” He brought this up after stating that the Armed Forced of the Philippines will be playing a vital role in the Barangay Development Program the administration is working on to further develop rural communities. He claimed this despite admitting that he was aware that soldiers were involved in “skirmishes.”
However, this does not take into account several reports of Indigenous communities and environmental activists attacked and killed by military troops under the rule.
Bringing back the death penalty
A hair-raising point of his speech was his announcement of his plan to bring back the death penalty. “I reiterate the swift passage of a law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous [Drugs] Act of 2002,” he said. Despite receiving international criticism for his war on drugs, he seems set on choosing violence over humane approaches such as improving drug rehabilitation programs and projects against poverty.
He claims that his anger is due to how drugs destroy families. He says that when a family’s patriarch becomes addicted to drugs, their wives are eventually forced to work abroad to make ends meet. “But alam naman natin there are tribes in the Middle East which would allow rape as part of the territory of being a househelp. Kasama ‘yan, kasama talaga ‘yan,” he said about the abuse that OFWs experience. He then notes that children in these households are often led into early prostitution and a life of drugs as well.
While it seems that he has an understand the struggles of many lower class families, his proposed solution remains anti-poor.
Utilizing the Coco Levy Fund but letting the Marcoses get away with ill-gotten wealth
It’s no secret that Duterte admires former President Ferdinand Marcos. He once said that if he steps down before the end of his term, we’re “better off choosing a dictator of the likes of Marcos.” So when he first brought up the Coco Levy Fund that Marcos cronies stole from its supposed coconut farmer-beneficiaries, I was surprised. He stated, “We must utilize the coconut levy for the benefit and development of our coconut industry. I urge everybody, ito ‘yung pera na nakuha dun sa sequestered [ng gobyerno] ni Marcos. Itong pera, malaki ito, gagamitin ito for the welfare of the farmers.” He revealed that he want to implement a Plant, Plant, Plant program to provide food security for Filipinos.
However, he followed this up by saying that they could no longer trace its beneficiaries and that “Marcos is a distant star. We do not know.” So we’re looking into corruption but we’re exempting the family of the president who was in charge when it happened? Make it make sense.
Let us know which one made the biggest impact on you.
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