• War vs poverty should top SONA – analysts


    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte should discuss his government’s economic plans and social services programs when he delivers his State of the Nationa address before Congress on Monday, analysts said.

    Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said that aside from his accomplishments in the last 12 months, Duterte should include in his speech the direction of the government in the delivery of better social services that was included in his campaign promises.

    The President, he said, needs to provide clear plans in dealing with poverty, contractualization and other social issues as well as government policies on various industries.

    “Dapat malinaw na yun (direction) kung paano haharapin ng administration yung usapin ng kahirapan at ilang social issues. Kasama yan sa mga sinasabi nya nung kampanya (it should be clear by now how the government intends to address poverty and other social issues. It was included in his campaign promises),” Casiple told The Manila Times.

    The President, in his first year in office, was able to show to the people that he is serious in having things done, earning him high satisfaction and trust ratings.

    READY FOR SONA Personnel of the House of Representatives make final preparations for the opening of Congress and the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday. PHOTO BY RUY L.MARTINEZ

    “The initial impression of the people is the President is hardworking, sincere, considerate which are all very important,” Casiple said.

    Analyst Antonio “Butch” Valdes agreed that the President should discuss salient parts of his economic programs, aside from those already announced by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

    Valdes, who heads the Save the Nation Movement, said he particularly wants to hear Duterte talk about energy and how he plans to bring down the cost of electricity in the country.

    “If the government does not bring down the cost of energy, all the other industrialization projects will fail, even the mass transit systems. The high speed rail system will not run if the energy is too high and it will be too expensive for the consumers,” Valdes pointed out.

    He added that the government has not considered the possible use of nuclear power as a source of cheap and clean energy.

    Valdez said the government should also clearly discuss its Build, Build, Build program, particularly the source of funds. The NEDA’s concept, he added, is to allow the private sector to look for funding, which is not ideal because the public may later end up paying more for the projects.

    Valdes said the Duterte administration should prioritize government to government agreements which are cheaper and have longer terms of payment. The private sector can participate in these projects but the government will have to be in control.

    “I think his weakest point is the President’s Cabinet members are the ones in charge of economics, and they might pull the President down,” he added.

    Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara wants the Duterte administration to focus on employment generation to address the twin problems of poverty and drugs.

    “We welcome the improvement in our employment situation during the first year of President Duterte’s administration. We call on our labor authorities to not only sustain, but intensify, our job creation programs,” said Angara, vice chairman of the Senate labor committee.

    The latest labor force survey showed a decline in unemployment rate from 6.1 percent or 2.62 million unemployed Filipinos in April of 2016 to 5.7 percent or 2.44 million people in the same period this year. This translates to about 180,000 Filipinos gaining employment in the past year.

    Angara said the President in his first SONA ordered the police force to triple its efforts to stop the drug trade and he is hoping that Duterte will issue the same directive, this time to minimize joblessness.

    Opposition lawmakers Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, also want Duterte to lay down his policies for the poor.

    “I hope that the President talks less about the his drug war, which has terrorized the poor, and instead put more emphasis on his socio-economic programs for poor families. In the same vein, I hope he will not bad mouth human rights and brandish his martial law as the panacea for Mindanao’s ills but instead expound about his peace agenda for the island, including making a pitch for a Bangsamoro Basic law,” Baguilat said in a statement.

    “On his first year and armed with popular support and an almost blind following from Congress, I hope he maximizes this by pushing his allies to pass Freedom of Information, National Land Use Act, a new mining law, a logging ban on natural forests, expanded maternity leave act, as well as expound on federalism initiative and charter change so that we would be guided,” he added.

    Alejano however said he expects Duterte to report on his campaign promise to eliminate drugs, and to discuss the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

    The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) meanwhile wants the President to give more emphasis to the reimposition of the death penalty and the campaign against corruption.

    “The absence of death penalty is the reason why killing is rampant in our country,” Dante Jimenez, founding chair of the VACC, said.

    Frank SONA
    Duterte is expected to give a frank speech when he addresses the joint session of Congress this afternoon.

    Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President will discuss his administration’s achievements and plans.

    “On the whole it will be frank, challenging, realistic but hopeful. The speech is written in English, which the President is comfortable with, and if read straight should take approximately 50 minutes,” Abella said.

    Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list, for his part, called on the President to address the transportation woes of the public.

    “Our party would like to him hear speak on how to alleviate the daily stress of millions of Filipinos because of heavy traffic and lack of a convenient means of public transportation that adds up to their daily work grind,” Tugna said.

    The police and military will deploy 6,300 troops to keep the peace since protesters have been allowed to hold rallies near the Batasang Pambansa where the President will deliver his second SONA.

    Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs, said military contingents will support policemen in securing today’s event.

    So far, the military has not monitored any threat coming from lawless elements, despite the statements of the House of Representatives security team that drug syndicates and other groups may saw chaos to disrupt Duterte’s SONA.

    The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) however will enforce stricter security.

    “The protesters will be nearer so they can have a good location, but it is still the same,” QCPD Director and Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar said.

    The vicinity of the Batasan Complex will be a no fly-zone while the President is in the House.



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