WHEN President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation (SONA) address on Monday, July 24, he will report on his government’s accomplishments over the past year and lay out priorities for the next.
In his first SONA, he said the fight against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption will be relentless and sustained. Indeed, the war on drugs has been the centerpiece of his administration, drawing support from some but condemnation from many.
The anti-illegal drugs campaign has become synonymous to human rights violations and a growing culture of impunity.
On paper, the Duterte administration’s approach to the drug problem appears to be holistic: increasing rehabilitation centers, resolving case backlogs, educating children about the evils of drugs. But these remain unfulfilled while the extra-judicial killings of poor drug users and small-time drug peddlers are on the rise.
His campaign against the corrupt and those who ‘betray the people’s trust’ has resulted in the dismissal of a Cabinet secretary, an undersecretary, political supporters in high places and dozens of government employees. But these people have not been made to account for their alleged crimes.
Buoyed by continued high satisfaction and trust ratings, Duterte is expected to continue his anti-drugs and corruption campaign without letup.
On the fight against communist insurgency, he declared a unilateral ceasefire but this did not hold and peace talks between government and rebel negotiators have been stalled.
But Duterte is committed to supporting the creation of a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, as he had expressed in his last SONA.
He is also expected to continue the country’s pivot to China and Russia while keeping Manila’s relations with Washington civil, and strengthening ties with its partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other neighbors like Japan.
On the economic front, as Duterte declared in his 2016 SONA, the government maintained current macro-economic policies to spur job creation and poverty reduction. And his government has delivered on its promise to make lives better for the poor. Rice subsidies are available to beneficiaries of the 4Ps program, health insurance coverage is being expanded, and a bigger budget has been allocated for basic education.
The government has also begun addressing bureaucratic bottlenecks to make it easier for people to obtain licenses or permits from regulatory bodies. A national portal to fast-track government transactions and services has been set up.
Duterte promised to provide internet service in selected public places at no cost. A free wifi project called Pipol Konek has been launched.
How did the president fare with the rest of his 2016 SONA promises? Click here to find out.