President Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address

Amid the threat of COVID-19, President Duterte continued to deliver his address in Batasang Pambansa with a limited audience. The President mentioned a set of priority bills he envisions to be enacted before his term ends in 2022.

On COVID-19, the President said that efforts are being sustained to procure a vaccine especially from China. President Duterte mentioned that the Philippine Government has expressed to Chinese leader Xi Jinping that it has appealed to be one of the first recipients should a vaccine be successfully developed.

In relation to vaccine procurement, President Duterte reiterated that ace-to - face classes will not be permitted until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

The President acknowledged that the government has seen "difficulties" in its testing capacity, a crucial area that the nation continues to tackle for more than 6 months since the crisis started. He also said that the delivery of emergency assistance during lockdown such as the social amelioration package need to be refined to be more effective.

Through Congress, the President instructed an increase in the number of health workers assigned to barangay health centers, rural health centers and other healthcare facilities in 2021. He also called on Congress to enact the Nursing Education Act, a statute creating the Medical Reserve Corps, and a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to respond to potential outbreaks.

In response to the worsening condition of the economy due to the pandemic, President Duterte said that re-opening the economy to a pre-COVID-19 setting is not an option at the moment as economic gains would be easily lost. He cited the recent rise in COVID-19 cases amid quarantine was evidence that the risk of infection is still high.

The President however mentioned that the country's good credit ratings puts the country in a solid economic position and is in a better position to endure the crisis triggered by the pandemic.

To further support Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), he asked the Philippine Central Bank to allow the extension of loan payments without additional penalties and charges.

The President instructed legislators to pass the CREATE, a modified version of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) as part of the country’s economic recovery roadmap. The plan aims to reduce corporate income tax and to rationalize financial opportunities for investors.

With the displacement of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), President Duterte requested government offices and other organizations to support OFWs who have lost their jobs and returned home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once again, he appealed for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos.

He heeded Congress to expedite the passage of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to provide low-interest loans to small businesses, aid migrant employees and vulnerable families, and further develop COVID-19 research.

President Duterte also called for the adoption of a law creating the Coconut Farmers' Trust Fund and an agricultural stimulus package of Php 66-billion through the Rural Agriculture and Fisheries Development Funding System Act.

Duterte asks Congress to pass the National Land Use Act to develop land in the countryside which he said would encourage sustainable economic development in the provinces.

The President also said that major infrastructure projects under the Build Build Build Program have been completed and that a "comprehensive written report" describing these will be released. He also promoted that more infrastructure programs be created to lift the livelihoods of the Filipinos.

On peace and order, the President mentioned that after three extensions, martial law in Mindanao has ended without violence. He said that Congress should pass a law to enforce the Barangay Development Plan. The plan, he noted, would give government forces a role in the strategy of a one-nation approach. He further called on Congress for the passage of the Unified Military and Uniformed Personnel Separation, Retirement, and Pension Bill and the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Immigration.

On the government’s fight against illegal drugs, he mentioned to Congress to discuss reinstating death penalty by lethal injection for crimes under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

As tensions continue to rise in the West Philippine Sea, President Duterte insisted not to assert its rights to avoid armed conflict. He also mentioned that he rejected the plan of the United States to return to Subic.

President Duterte said that the government should be given the first choice to use public services. In particular, he advises telecommunications companies to upgrade their infrastructure by December, otherwise the government would be forced to take drastic action and expropriate businesses.

In his message, the President pressed against oligarchs who have dominated public services since the Spanish occupation. He insisted that the government should be the first to utilize public utilities before everyone else because this belongs to the government.

The President Duterte also criticized ABS-CBN and the owners of the media network, calling them oligarchs. According to him, he was victimized by the Lopez family in the 2016 Presidential election on several occasions through propaganda and deliberate attempts to derail him of his presidential bid.

 

Lastly, Duterte blasts the opposition senator Franklin Drilon and his attempts to protect the media giant and his comments on political dynasties. He again put the spotlight on Sen. Drilon, accusing him of being one of the lawyers hired by private entities in the 1997 Water Concessionaire Agreement with the Philippine government. 

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