“The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.” – Henry Green, novelist.

The prevailing problems, the present priorities, and the prospective resolutions: sprinkle them with a spice of showbiz bits such as the congresswomen’s matching gowns.

We have been all familiar with this format as we listened to his 4th SONA last July 22, 2019.

President_Duterte_SONA.jpg, In search of missing puzzle pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA

Some key points, which were expected to be mentioned included his main agenda since he took office as President, corruption, the revival of some tourist spots to their former beauty, new telecommunication companies, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, and tax reform.

In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by: The ASEAN Post

But while these current issues remain as the main focus of the President for the past year, there is still a crucial need to scrutinize other concerns not mentioned in his SONA. That is, hunting for the missing jigsaw pieces that equally deserve a national platform also need to be voiced out and opened for discourse. These issues include the following:

1) the ongoing construction of the China-funded Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve in Sierra Madre

The President did mention his take on the issue on the West Philippine Sea but he didn’t say anything about another critical issue on the Kaliwa Dam construction, which, coincidentally, is funded by the Chinese government. Three critical consequences about this unstated issue arise:

In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by Jacob Maentz

2) the optional inclusion of Filipino and Panitikan subjects in the curriculum in the tertiary level

  • The President did mention the rebirth of the mandatory ROTC in Grade 11 to ensure national security and strengthen nationalism. However, this seems to run opposite to the Supreme Court’s final ruling to make the two subjects—both of which equally aim to promote and strengthen nationalism—merely optional in the tertiary level; and
In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by philstar.com

3) the support for public school teachers

  • President Duterte did recognize DepEd Secretary Briones regarding the successful enrolment of over 20 million students for 2019-2020, but he did not mention her insensitive remarks about the “dramatic” incidents (and the problem) of how public school teachers use comfort rooms as makeshift faculty rooms.
In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by gmanetwork.com

These are only some of the “hidden” issues not raised during President’s SONA. He was right to say:

“I have identified the enemy who dumped us into this quagmire we are in. I have met the enemy face to face. And sadly, the enemy is us…”

In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by rappler.com

Surprisingly, this statement is reminiscent of Heneral Luna’s statement when they were still battling for our freedom:

“May mas malaking kaaway tayo kaysa sa mga Amerikano: ang ating sarili.”

In Search of Missing Puzzle Pieces in President Duterte’s 4th SONA
Photo by: rappler.com

We have to start recognizing these enemies in us, face them, conquer, and live above them. Of course, the President and the government itself are no exception.

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