News SONA 2018 Promise Tracker

SONA 2018 PROMISE TRACKER: Social services

President Rodrigo Duterte’s government marks the first half of his term with the fulfillment of one of its biggest promises — to provide “quality health services” for all, through the passage of a comprehensive universal healthcare law.

Since his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, Duterte has emphasized his goal of fast-tracking the delivery of social services to the public by amending the procurement law and rightsizing the national government. These promises remain unfulfilled as Congress failed to pass laws addressing these priorities during the 17th Congress.

The president’s earlier assurance to provide a decent living wage to workers, build specialty hospitals in other parts of the country and phase out labor contractualization have yet to be realized. A Security of Tenure bill, said to be the law that will “end endo,” was passed before the close of the previous Congress. It now awaits the president’s signature.

PROMISE: Hasten the passage of the Universal Healthcare bill

“…These will ensure that every Filipino [family] gets the appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness. To this end, I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill…” (SONA, 2018)


President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Universal Health Care Act on February 20, 2019.

The law provides that every Filipino will automatically be enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). It also expands the coverage of PhilHeath and will include free medical consultations and laboratory tests.

PROMISE: Pass a law prohibiting labor contractualization

“That is why I add mine to their voices in asking Congress to pass legislation ending the practice of contractualization once and for all.” (SONA, 2018)

In progress

On June 27, 2019, Congress transmitted to the Office of the President the Senate version of the Security of Tenure bill which aims to end the exercise of labor-only contracting . Labor groups denounced the adoption of the senate bill, as it does not completely prohibit fixed-term employment. In a radio interview with Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III a week before the SONA, he said the president could be clarifying “minor issues” before signing the proposed law.

PROMISE: Rightsize the national government

“Let us trim the excess fat and add more muscle through the expeditious passage of “The Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Institute.” (SONA 2017)


Congress failed to pass the said bill during the 17th Congress. It will need to be refiled in the 18th Congress.

PROMISE: Amend the government procurement law

“I urge Congress to thoroughly review our existing procurement laws and come up with legislation that will ensure the prompt delivery of quality goods and services to the people, especially medicines and hospital equipment.” (SONA 2017)


Congress failed to pass the said bill during the 17th Congress. It will need to be refiled in the 18th Congress.

PROMISE: Conduct a nationwide soil analysis

“We shall also conduct a nationwide soil analysis to determine areas most suitable for rice farming to optimize production with the use of effective soil rehabilitation and fertilization.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

In a phone interview with VERA Files, agriculturist Sarah Salgado of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) said, they are focusing on “corn areas” for the third phase of the National Soil Sampling and Testing Program.

The program’s first two phases focused on mapping areas for rice sustainability in the country.

Salgado also said the BSWM is targeting to finish the five-phase program by 2020.

PROMISE: Expand alternative learning programs

“We will also intensify and expand Alternative Learning System programs.” (SONA 2016)


The Department of Education (DepEd) released “Guidelines on the implementation of Enhanced Alternative Learning System (ALS) 2.0,” on June 25.

Earlier that month, DepEd incorporated skills training in their newly launched handbook for ALS. This is in addition to basic subjects students will be enrolled in.


On contractualization

On Healthcare bill

On rightsizing national government

On procurement law

On soil analysis


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)