He is silent on Marcos burial, death penalty revival and “Endo”
By Raïssa Robles
“There will be no let up in this campaign. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars, or below the ground if they so wish”, he said in his rambling State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Duterte did not mention running after drug addicts who, in other recent speeches, he described as beyond redemption.
Notice though, that he did not anymore mention a six-month deadline.
I will elaborate on Duterte’s drug war in a separate post.
This one will be more of a capsule on what he said and didn’t say. (By the way, I did like the fact that the yearly SONA fashion show was severely restricted by the no-frills president.)
Despite the fact that Duterte’s SONA was the longest so far in the country’s history, the President failed to mention three things that he had promised during his election campaign:
1) Duterte did not mention anything about reviving the death penalty through an Act of Congress. Perhaps he doesn’t need to, what with all those drug lords, pushers and addicts who for some strange reason keep stupidly fighting back, (nanlaban) as the police keep claiming. Which is why they get killed.
2) Duterte did not also mention ending subcontractualization in the service sector or “Endo”. Congressman Teddy Casino also noted that this was missing in Duterte’s speech.
3) And Duterte did not also mention burying the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). This does not mean, though, that the idea has been scrapped.
Perhaps he just skipped those parts mentioning these in his prepared speech, since he kept going off-script.
Let’s wait for Malacañang Palace’s clarifications.
Duterte did announce the following significant developments and campaign promises:
1) a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist rebels “effective immediately”. Should he not issue some sort of a proclamation for this, to guide the Armed Forces of the Philippines on how to respond to any mistaken or close encounters?
Duterte noted that –
“All of us want peace. Not the peace of the dead but the peace of the living. We express our willingness and readiness to go to the negotiating table. And yet we load our guns, fix our sights, pull the trigger. It is both ironic and tragic and it is endless. While we extol the bravery and heroism of our soldiers, kayo the rebels do the same for your members and fighters. What I see instead are the widows and the orphans. And I feel their pain and grief. And no amount of cash assistance can compensate the loss of human life.
“Sorrow cuts across every stratum of Philippine society. It cuts deeply and the pain lasts forever. “
Despite this stated desire for peace, Duterte did not announce the release of political prisoners.
2) a Bangsamoro Basic Law without the “unconstitutional parts”.
3) lower personal and corporate income taxes as well as a simpler and more equitable tax system, but no tax increases.
4) emergency powers for himself to be able to address Metro Manila’s traffic congestion. But he added
“ayaw niyo, ok lang rin. Kung gusto ninyo madalian, alam naman ninyo, sagad na. If you give it, fine. If you don;t give it, we will do ti slowly. Tanggapin ko pagmumura ninyo. Huwag lang sa malapit.”
5) a clean government.
“I assure you, this will be a clean government. If that is the only worry that you have and I can understand your misgivings. He, haba. Wala na ito sa script. Ako magarantiya 101% it will be clean.
Problem is, I can only act through agencies and departments….I cannot guarantee their honesty at all times. Cabinet members, yeah.”
6) relaxation of the bank secrecy law. But he did not say for what and who would be able to access bank information.
7) a parliamentary and federal form of government with a ceremonial president. Duterte took great pains to tell congressmen “I would be disqualified” from running for office. He also mentioned the fact that “not a single congressman” had backed his presidential run.
8) tickets for MRT and LRT to be sold in malls. More trains to run at higher speed.
9) a law to protect whistleblowers.
10) an affirmation of the favorable decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea.
11) an extension of the passport validity from five years to 10 years;
12) and less red tape in government transactions.
At the end of his speech, Duterte returned to his favorite topic – eradicating the drug problem.
He gave this excuse why no big fish among drug lords had been killed by the police:
“The drug lords whom you desperately want to strangle are not here. The ones you just catch are just the lieutenants. They are cooking it (the drugs) in the international waters.”
“The sheer problem, believe me, will drown us as a republic. How can we solve the problem now by arresting? Hinahanap ko bilang president.”
Just a suggestion – he could try giving China the list of drug lords and asking them to cooperate and send them over for trial – or arrest them in the mainland, make them stand trial and bring over the evidence there.
In the past, the Philippines had been very cooperative toward China in their requests to repatriate their fugitives from justice, such as criminals operating fraud schemes in the Philippines while victimizing Chinese mainlanders. I’ve written a couple of stories for South China Morning Post on how the Philippines handed over Chinese nationals captured in the Philippines to Chinese mainland authorities.
With Hong Kong, the Philippines has an agreement on criminal matters. This was how the Philippines once requested Hong Kong to repatriate an ethnic Filipino-Chinese Alfredo Tiongson who had fled there. Unfortunately, the Philippine judge threw out the case.
Duterte said he had told the military that if they should ever come across a foreign drug lord, “sabi ko sa military pag nakita mo pasabugin mo. Show no mercy to them.”
Duterte did not also mention the names of congressmen and mayors whom he said were drug dealing. That would have set his speech apart from all other SONAs made by previous presidents.
That would have delivered the promise of a “powerful” speech made by his aides beforehand. In addition, the promised tearjerker-of-a-speech turned at times into a one-man comedy show. He’s a natural in the latter, though.
Since Duterte does not give press conferences, we are left to speculate why he did not do as he had promised – to name names.
Ending his speech, he mentioned something about the dawn breaking at the height of darkness. But he did not contextualize this.
Then he ended by saying, “All the mirrors in the world will reflect the passion that can change his life. Daghan salamat.”
I’m not sure whether he was referring to himself or something else. But that is how he ended a Brillante Mendoza production on #SONA2016.
By the way, the “speech” that is posted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer is not the complete speech. It does not contain all the ad libs he made.