In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said, "I assure…
When President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26, many parts of the country are back on stricter quarantine amid the threat of the more virulent Delta variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that is ravaging Southeast Asian countries.
Days prior, international credit rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s downgraded their outlook on the Philippines, largely due to the government’s poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 12, Fitch Rating downgraded its outlook to “negative” from “stable.” After more than a week, Moody’s announced that it has lowered its Philippine growth forecast this year to 5.8% from the 7% it gave in January.
Recent developments in the economic front indicate far more serious challenges in delivering Duterte’s “pledge and commitment” in his 2019 SONA to provide for a “comfortable life for everybody, all Filipinos” by the end of his term in June 2022.
This was consistent with his 2016 goal: "By the end of my term I hope and pray to hand over an economy that is much stronger, characterized by solid growth, low and stable inflation and dollar reserves, and a robust fiscal position."
In his valedictory address before a joint session of Congress on Monday, Duterte is expected to enumerate the strides his administration has made on more than 130 promises from previous SONAs that VERA Files has tracked and what more he intends to do in the final 11 months of his presidency.
Duterte’s campaign and SONA promises were heavy on ending illegal drugs, criminality and corruption in the bureaucracy “within three to six months” of his presidency. What his administration has so far achieved on these in the past five years are expected to be high also in his final SONA.
Last Feb. 24, he admitted that fulfilling his vow to end corruption was “impossible.” Nonetheless, he vowed to “dedicate the last remaining months … going after corrupt people, so that by the time ... maminus-minus na (they will be reduced).”
So far, the country’s chief executive has fulfilled 54 out of 134 promises tracked, failed in seven while 62 are in various stages of implementation and 11 have been stalled. About 66% or 89 of the promises tracked were new promises made in the 2020 SONA and carryover from the 2016-2019 addresses.
In the foreign affairs front, for instance, he has fulfilled his pledge to boost cooperation with nations on peace and progress. Last September, he spoke during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and called for a “coordinated international” effort to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He also urged other nations to address climate change, the issue of terrorism, and the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea.
But he has failed to assert the country's rights over the West Philippine Sea. Worse, he has downplayed the historic 2016 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and described it as a "just a (piece of) paper" that he would "throw into the wastebasket."
Even then, the administration managed to carry out a number of programs that provided assistance to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In infrastructure, only nine out of the 119 flagship projects under the P9-trillion “Build, Build, Build” program have been completed. Of the nine completed big-ticket projects, six were either proposed, launched or approved during the previous administration. The remaining 110 projects are in varying stages of construction: 14 are due for completion within the year, 17 in 2022 and the rest in 2023 and beyond.
So far, among the projects that have been opened to the public since Duterte’s 2020 SONA were the LRT 2 East Extension (inaugurated July 2021) and the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (inaugurated January 2021), which were carried over from the previous administration.
On easing the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that more than 17.6 million low-income families benefited from the first tranche of cash subsidies distributed under Bayanihan 1 amounting to around P99 billion. Payout for the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) is still ongoing and is targeted to be completed by the end of July 2021.
At least five programs dedicated to repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) were launched since June last year. Tabang OFW and Project EASE both offer cash assistance to student dependents of OFWs, while Agri-Negosyo Para sa OFWs, TESDA Abot Lahat Ang OFWs, and OFW RISE focus on the reintegration of returning OFWs by providing them with free online skills training on agri-business and entrepreneurship.
With the prolonged pandemic, much more remains to be done to keep the economy back on track. This early, however, the country’s political leaders have already been occupied with preparations for the May 2022 national and local elections.
In a country with a recent history of prosecuting former presidents once they step down, the outgoing president has said he was considering running for vice president in 2022 to continue enjoying immunity from suit.
VERA Files Fact Check tracked Duterte’s progress in the promises made in the 2020 SONA and the remaining unfulfilled promises from 2016 to 2019 SONAs. Find out what he has achieved — and what he did not — in our 2020 SONA Promise Tracker.