2019 SONA Promise Tracker

Find out how Duterte fared in each sector

In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte ended his State of the Nation Address (SONA) with a vision: “a comfortable life for everybody, all Filipinos,” within his last three years in office.

A year later, he will deliver his fifth SONA to an audience of millions quarantined at home, hit by an unforeseen coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has cost the country nearly 2,000 lives, and the economy, billions of pesos.

Carrying with him some 70 promises from past addresses—half from last year’s—Duterte is poised to report on Monday, July 27, the strides his administration has made toward this more “comfortable life” for Filipinos.

He succeeded in getting the ball rolling for most of his 2019 promises about infrastructure, the environment, and some social services.

He also met a big goal in his peace agenda: passing an anti-terrorism law. This, however, has been met with 16 petitions at the Supreme Court so far, including one from framers of the 1987 Constitution, contesting its constitutionality.

Contrary to this, Duterte also enters his fifth year having meandered off from at least two major promises.

Four days after his SONA last year, the president vetoed a bill that would have prohibited labor contractualization, which he himself has certified urgent in the past.

After a state visit the following August, Duterte also said he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will “ignore” the Philippines’ historic 2016 win on the South China Sea dispute, despite repeatedly vowing to assert the country’s rights in the contested areas.

The press has also taken a blow in Duterte’s fourth year, with the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. for cyberlibel, and ABS-CBN being shut down. Both media organizations received special attention from Duterte in his 2017 SONA.

VERA Files Fact Checks tracked Duterte’s progress in 35 promises he made in his 2019 SONA, as well as 38 other vows from 2016 to 2018. Find out what he has achieved—and what he did not—in our 2019 SONA Promise Tracker.


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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