Duterte began his speech with the administration’s war on drugs—or Oplan Tokhang. According to the commander in chief, “The war against illegal drugs is far from over. It will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless and chilling as on the day it began.”
The President then lashed out against the critics of Oplan Tokhang. “If you think that I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight because of demonstrations [and] protests, then you got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.”
The current administration’s war on drugs has resulted to 20,000 casualties where 2,555 killings has been attributed to the Philippine National Police, as per Al Jazeera.
The President said that the issue of corruption must halt as he stated that the government is improving its service delivery, thanking the Congress for the swift passage of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.
Duterte said that it is a significant fight against corruption as R.A. 11032 is an act establishing a standardized deadline for government transactions as well as a single unified business application form among other features improving the government’s service delivery.
Despite the opposition from numerous sectors regarding the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the President is determined to ratify the bill in order to prevent “Imperial Manila—or the centralization of everything from resources to culture around the country’s capital, thus deprioritizing the needs of the provinces.
“Give me 48 hours to sign and ratify the [Bangsamoro Organic Law], babasahin ko pa bago pipirmahan, baka may siningit kayo diyan na hindi maganda para sa ibang tao.”
With the previous state of terrorism in Marawi City, Mindanao Duterte swore that ISIS terrorists and its allies will never step foot in the country again, stating “I have made a pledge that ISIS terrorists or groups or its allies will never gain foothold in our country.”
Moreover, Duterte expressed his sentiment on the remaining decimated Maute-ISIS group in Marawi to be reintegrated into society in order to regain the peace in Mindanao as this hard earned peace is owed to fallen soldiers and police.
Duterte likewise stated that the government will continue to assert and pursue an independent foreign policy, stating that national development and security as the current administration’s priority.
The President also mentioned the country’s bond with ASEAN countries. In his speech, he said that the trilateral border patrol with Indonesia and Malaysia has since then eradicated pirates and terrorists in the region.
Addressing the public concern on the territorial dispute of the West Philippine Sea, wherein Chinese coast guard vessels prohibited entry for Filipino fishermen earlier this year, Duterte assured that the administration will not waver in defending the country’s interest.
“Our improved relationship with China, however, does not mean that we will waver in our commitment to defend our interests in the West Philippine Sea. This is why we engage China through bilateral and multilateral platforms such as the ASEAN-China and the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism.
On May 1 of this year, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 51 banning illegal contractualization and sub-contractualization to further protect the security of tenure of all workers based on social justices in the 1987 Philippine constitution.
The three-year campaign against ENDO resulted to regularization of more than 300,000 workers, as per Duterte. However, labor groups have been against the EO as it was supposedly not the draft negotiated and drafted with the labor department. Duterte countered the argument as it was not part of the power vested upon the president in the constitution.
“I understand that this does not satisfy all sectors. I share their sentiment. Much as I would like to do the impossible, that power is not vested upon me by the Constitution. And neither will I make both ends meet even if I violate the laws to achieve that purpose. Simply, it is not part of my territory.”
Duterte mentioned the significance of the coconut farmers to the society as he prompted the Congress to convene the bicameral conference committee to pass forthwith the bill establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund.
The Senate approved on March 19 Senate Bill No. 1233 titled coco levy trust fund bill, wherein creating a perpetual trust fund for the coconut farmers and those in the industry.
As telecommunication services in the country make up numerous jobs for those in the country’s working sector, “My administration remains firm in its resolve to ensure that the country’s telecommunication services are reliable, inexpensive, and secure,” the President said.
Mentioning a drafted Terms of Reference allowing new industry players to enter the country, he also said that the government must lower interconnection rates between industry players to reduce the cost of consumers. However, Akamai Technologies’ Global State of the Internet 2017 Report says that Philippines still have one of the slowest average internet speed in Asia Pacific.
“I could not allow this decay to continue; decisive action has long been overdue,” Duterte said regarding the six-month closure of Boracay. He furthered that the Boracay closure marks the beginning of rehabilitations of other tourist destinations in the country.
The President also urged the Senate to pass the National Land Use and Management Act of the Philippines, an act providing for a just allocation, utilization, management and development of the country’s land and water resources, despite the fact that a gov’t-built sewage system was recently discovered contaminating the water in some parts of the island.
Moreover, Duterte warned mining industries of the environmental damage brought about by mining, “To the mining industry do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged because this time you will have restrictive policies,” the President said.
Duterte also exhorts all concerned agencies and local government units to uphold the concept of intergenerational responsibility in the exploration and utilization of the country’s mineral wealth, the protection and preservation of biodiversity that is anchored on the right to a balanced and healthy ecology.
The President said that the government must undertake initiatives to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and bolster the resilience of Filipinos to the impact of natural disasters and climate change.
“We, in the Cabinet, have approved for immediate endorsement to Congress the passage of a law creating the Department of Disaster Management.” he then appealed to Congress to pass the bill urgently, stating that the people’s safety requirement can no longer wait.
“We have fast tracked the distribution of NFA rice to provide affordable rice for all,” the commander in chief said, stating that the government is also working on long-term solutions.
According to Duterte, the country needs to switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported freely, resulting in additional resources to farmers through reduced price of rice by up to 7 pesos per kilo, thus resulting in lower inflation rates.
The current administration is working on the unified implementation of the No Balance Billing Policy aims to remove the fees or expenses charged or paid for by the indigent patients above and beyond the packaged rates during their confinement period.
With that, the President expressed the need for the passage of the Universal Health Care Bill that seeks to cover all Filipinos, and as of September 2017, Congress passed into law the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program aiming to provide comprehensive health care and insurance.
According to Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, the funding for the said bill will be sourced from the the 80 percent incremental value collected from sin tax, 50 percent share of the national government from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) and the charity fund from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). For more information read here.
In the entirety of the SONA, Duterte did not elaborate on the Constitutional shift to a Federal government nor the chance of a looming charter change, as it was the concern of protesters participating in the #DU30NoToCharterChange rally outside the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
Furthermore, unlike his second SONA held last year, Duterte did not meet with protestors outside the Complex in order to address the issues surrounding his third year of presidency.
The President ended his third SONA with a quote from late American President Abraham Lincoln, saying: