The fourth State of the Nation Address of President Duterte was held last July 22, 2019. Now that he is in the mid-term of his presidency, has he lived up to his promises? Or just like what a typical politician does, were the Filipinos disappointed once again?
The Filipinos, from the poor and marginalized, to those with a seat in the government, had different reactions concerning President Duterte’s recently held State of the Nation Address. Various rallies were held as the President’s SoNA is ongoing, some were in support to the current administration, while most groups who protested are not in favour of this government’s policies. Nuns and priests even organized their own protest in support of the poor and questioning the injustices under this administration.
One of the Franciscan sisters, Sister Susan Esmile said “we are sympathizing with our fellowmen because everything that the government has been doing is against the rights of the poor and marginalized.” The priests and nuns were also protesting against the ‘collateral damage’ brought upon by the administration’s war on drugs where innocent lives are being taken away. They also said that it is part of their evangelizing mission to participate and be involved in any political realities and engagements.
Government officials and well-known people in politics also expressed their disappointment. Senator Risa Hontiveros said, “Instead of State of the Nation Address, it’s as if it was State of China’s Affairs in the West Philippine Sea. It was like the person who talked was not the president of the Philippines, but the President of China. My grade for the President’s SoNA: 22/100 – the number of fishermen whom he failed to fight for.
Former Solicitor General Atty. Florin Hilbay posted in his twitter account, saying “The fundamental flaw in President Duterte’s policy on the West Philippine Sea & China is his belief that any diplomatic or legal move to preserve our rights leads to war. Thus, his inaction & submissiveness. This is a policy unique to his administration and is not shared by any other nation.”
While most people were disappointed in the President’s address, some still expressed their support. Few pro-Duterte groups organized their own rallies in support to the government and its policies. They said that they are satisfied and think that president Duterte is “the best president”. Actor Philip Salvador also expressed his support to the administration and said in an interview, “To those people who criticize this administration, just die!”
One thing we Filipinos should remember is that it is our country that needs our support; not these officials in the government. We must maintain a logical and rational mind and speak up for our country when it needs us too and fight for our rights when it is being incessantly stepped on. Whether we like it or not, we have to choose sides and there is no in between. Staying silent means that you are on the side of the oppressor. Speaking up for the victims of violence and injustice is the least we could do.