President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address before a joint congressional session at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, July 22, 2019. (Screegrab from RTVM video via YouTube)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte delivered on Monday an almost expletive-free fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) that lasted for an hour and 33 minutes.
Now halfway through his six-year term, the President laid out the policies he would want to adopt for the remaining three years in office.
Surprisingly, the 74-year-old President did not slam his critics this time, as he usually did in his lengthy and rambling speeches.
Opening his speech at exactly 5:15 p.m., he said: “@xtending my hand in gratitude in all who kept faith with me in our most trying times.”
Here’s are the highlights of his speech.
Drug war, corruption
The President said his controversial war on drugs and fight against corruption would be relentless “with determination to pursue relentlessly what we have started at the start of my administration.”
READ: Duterte: I will end my term fighting
He said: “I will end my term fighting.”
And he noted: “The drugs will not be crushed unless we continue to eliminate corruption that allows this social monster to survive.”
READ: Duterte to public: Report corruption, Palace is open 24/7
The President also ordered the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Social Security System (SSS), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and Pag-IBIG Fund to simplify their transactions with citizens. Or else, he said: “I will kill you.”
READ: Duterte’s order to gov’t agencies: Simplify transactions or I’ll kill you
He also assured Congress that there was no corruption in the entry into the country of the third telco player, led by presidential friend and Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy.
READ: Duterte: No corruption in entry of third telco led by friend Dennis Uy
Revival of death penalty: He pushed for the reimposition of death penalty on crimes related to drugs and plunder.
READ: Duterte renews push for death penalty on drug-related crimes
Department of Disaster Resilience: He also pushed Congress to fast track the creation of a department that would focus solely on disaster and climate change resilience plans and programs.
READ: Duterte: Speed up creation of Department of Disaster Resilience
Department of Water Resources: He also urged Congress to pass the bill creating the Department of Water Resources and Water Regulatory Commission.
READ: Duterte asks Congress: We need to pass bill for department of water
Department of OFWs: He again pushed the creation of an OFW department to address the concerns of Filipino workers abroad.
READ: Duterte wants ‘Department of OFWs’ set up by December
National Academy for Sports: He also backed the move create a National Academy of Sports for high school students.
READ: Duterte backs National Academy for Sports for high school students
Barangay, SK polls postponement: He called on Congress to postpone the May 2020 Barangay elections to October 2022.
READ: Duterte calls on Congress: Postpone barangay polls from 2020 to 2022
The President also proposed a law that would require commercial establishments across the country to close by midnight.
READ: Duterte wants PH establishments closed by midnight
He asked Congress to approve the National Defense Act, Uniformed Separation and Retirement Pension Bill, as well as the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
READ: Duterte urges passage of National Defense Act, mandatory ROTC bill
He also asked Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) to increase the pay of government workers, including public school teachers and public hospital nurses.
READ: Duterte to Congress: Pass new law on gov’t workers, teachers salary hike
Manila Bay polluters
He also warned polluters of Manila Bay to shape up— or “I’m going to dismantle your building or just simply burn it down.”
READ: Duterte to Manila Bay polluters: Shape up or I’ll tear down your building
He said the government would relocate informal settlers as part of its drive to restore Manila Bay.
Medical funds wasted
He said he was grossly disappointed” at the government’s wasted medical funds due to ghost medical claims.
He was referring to the ghost dialysis claims and fictitious patients of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The agency billions of pesos due to this scam.
READ: Duterte ‘grossly disappointed’ at huge medical funds wasted due to ghost claims
Suspend mayors, governors
He also ordered Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend mayors who would not heed the order to reclaim all public roads that had been used for private purposes.
READ: Duterte orders Año: Suspend mayors, governors refusing to clear public roads
The President said he would be asserting the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea “in due time.”
READ: Duterte on imposing arbitral ruling in South China Sea row: ‘In due time’
He also defended his verbal fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping allowing Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
He noted that the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration said that “the Philippines may enter in a fishing agreement with other states.”
READ: Duterte cites Hague ruling: PH may enter into fishing deal with other nations
The President praised the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for collecting P585 billion in 2018.
He also hailed Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for collecting billions of pesos in revenue.
READ: Duterte praises ‘corruption-ridden’ BOC for collecting P585-B
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.