President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his almost expletive-free fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday that lasted for an hour and 33 minutes. 

Duterte was once again late for his fourth SONA. He was supposed to start his speech at 4:00 P.M., but due to sudden rains, the chopper of the President landed in the Batasang Pambansa area at 4:53 P.M.. He started his speech at exactly 5:15 P.M and ended at 6:48 P.M. 

Although, unlike the past SONAs of the 74-year-old President, where he usually rambles and responds to his critics, his speech yesterday is more on speaking his remaining plans for the country. 

He mentioned, “extending my hand in gratitude in all who keep faith with me in our most trying times.” 

Highlights of the SONA 2019

War on drugs and fight against corruption

Duterte said, “I will end my term fighting,” pertaining to his war on drugs and fight against corruption

“The drugs will not be crushed unless we continue to eliminate corruption that allows this social monster to survive.” 

He also ordered the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Social Security System (SSS), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Pag-IBIG Fund, and Land Registration Authority (LRA) to do something with their time-consuming transactions, or else, he said, “I will kill you.”

He also assured the Congress that there is no corruption in the entry of the third telecommunication company in the country, which is led by Dennis Uy, who is a presidential friend and a Davao-based businessman. 

The bills

Death Penalty — Duterte is in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty for drug syndicates and plunders. 

He pushes the Congress to move fast in creating the bills to have a Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Water Resources, Department of OFWs, and he also supports the creation of the National Academy for Sports for high school students. 

Duterte asked the Congress to pass the second tranche of his planned tax system overhaul pertaining to the Trabaho bill. 

He also proposed a law that would require commercial establishments around the country to close by midnight. 

The President also asked the Congress to approve the National Defense Act, Uniformed Separation and Retirement Pension Bill, and also the passing of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) revival. 

He also wants to pass a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) for the salary increase of government workers, specifically the public school teachers and public hospital nurses. 

He also called the Congress to postpone the May 2020 Barangay and SK elections and move it to October 2022. 

Polluters in Manila Bay 

He called out Manila Bay polluters saying, “I’m going to dismantle your building or just simply burn it down.” 

He also mentioned about relocating the informal settlers there as part of the plan to restore the Manila Bay area.

Ghost medical claims 

The President said that he was “grossly disappointed” with the issue of ghost medical claims that resulted in government’s waste of medical funds. 

He was referring to the ghost dialysis claims and the non-existing patients of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. A scam that allegedly gained billions of pesos. 

Suspension of mayors & governors 

Duterte also ordered Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend mayors who would not consider the order to reclaim all public roads that had been used for private purposes. 

China on West Philippine Sea 

The President said he would address the Philippine sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea “in due time.” 

He even defended the verbal fishing deal he had with the China President Xi Jinping about permitting the Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone. 

“The Philippines may enter in a fishing agreement with other states,” he noted as he pertained to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. 

Recognition

President Duterte mentioned the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for the department’s successful collection of P585 billion in 2018. 

He also praised the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) for collecting billions of pesos in revenue.

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