Government News Analysis

The ‘law-and-order’ SONA

Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivering his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Batasang Pambansa Complex on the 24th of July 2017

Yesterday, the Philippine nation heard from their president, Rodrigo Duterte. The occasion was his second State of the Nation Address (SONA). It was refreshingly frank. It didn’t attempt to hoodwink the people – telling them how wonderful things are in the Philippines; what a great job the government has been doing – as so many SONAs of the past have. It cut straight to the bone. There was no sugar-coating. “Today, a multitude of problems confront us,” he said. “No sooner is one problem solved [when] another surges forth in its place”.

His assessment was stark: “I will mince no words, and neither will I window-dress the situation we are in. Let me answer in two brief sentences. We are in for trouble because we live in troubled and uncertain times. And I fear that things might get worse before they become better”.

It was an honest appraisal and mirrors the reality which most of this nation understands; the same reality which brought Duterte to power. And so while much of Duterte’s speech – effectively a ‘law-and-order SONA’ – will infuriate his critics at home and abroad, for his supporters it will have been music to their ears.

They’ll be happy to learn that the War on Drugs will not abate. Duterte vowed that the anti-narcotics campaign will continue – “no matter how long it takes” and the fight will be as “unremitting as it will be unrelenting”.

As with other grave threats to the nation’s security and wellbeing, Duterte urged all elements of the country to come together and defeat them. “We can, and we will, overcome as we did countless times in the past, [but] only if we work together towards a common goal,” he said.

He directly addressed those who oppose the drugs war, offering them this advice. “Your efforts will be better spent if you use the influence, moral authority and ascendancy of your organisations over your respective sectors to educate the people on the evils of illegal drugs instead of condemning the authorities and unjustly blaming [them] for every killing that bloodies this country,” he said. “Look beyond your biases, your prejudices, your ambition [and] your political agenda”.

The most uncomfortable person in the room right then, judging from the body language, was Vice President Leni Robredo, one of the president’s fiercest critics who’s focused an international spotlight on Duterte’s drugs war and specifically linked it to extrajudicial killings. The Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City was packed to the rafters for this event, but at that moment Robredo looked like she was alone in the room.

At least she turned up though; her former Liberal Party boss, former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, had opted to watch the SONA on TV, away from the cameras in the comfort of his own home; far from the public gaze. His absence from the packed Plenary Hall was made all the more conspicuous by the presence there of former presidents Fidel V Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

No doubt the Western anti-Duterte media and human-rights organisations will quickly rally to denounce the president’s reaffirming his drugs-war resolve. For them, though, he had this to say: “I do not intend to loosen the leash in the campaign or lose the fight against illegal drugs. Neither do I intend to preside over the destruction of the Filipino youth by being timid and tentative in my decisions and actions”.

But then for his opponents there was an embarrassment of riches in the president’s speech, and it’s hard to know what they’ll attack first.

One thing they certainly won’t be ignoring will be his plea to Congress to reinstate the death penalty for those found guilty of drugs-related offences. “We have to act decisively on this contentious issue”. This isn’t just about deterrence, he said, it’s about retribution. He pointed out that was the reason the capital punishment provision was enshrined in the Revised Penal Code. “In the Philippines, it’s really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You took a life, then you must pay [for] it with life,” he said.

Those words will earn Duterte a great deal of condemnation from the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as from members of the US Congress and the European Parliament – not to mention the hierarchical bishops of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church. But, again, for those who’ve lived with the rape and the violence spawned by drugs, Duterte’s firm commitment to the death penalty will resonate well.

As, too, will these remarks: “I will not allow the ruin of the youth, the disintegration of families and the retrogression of communities, forced by criminals whose greed for money is as insatiable as it is devoid of moral purpose. Neither will I be immobilised into inaction by the fear that I will commit an act that will expose me to public condemnation or legal prosecution. You harm the children in whose hands the future of this Republic is entrusted, and I will hound you to the very gates of hell”.

For the millions of Filipinos who’ve had to live close to that hell for so long, this is what they wanted to hear. They’re not expecting an overnight miracle from Duterte – they know better than most how deep the rot of society runs in their country. They simply want their president to maintain his commitment to clearing out that rot – and that’s what he gave them in this SONA.

Duterte’s message on stamping out criminality across the archipelago was unambiguous. “Let us understand this beginning today,” he said. “Either we have laws in this country or we do not. We enforce the laws against the miners and the rich, but I will also enforce laws against anarchy, disturbance, and [those who] create trouble”.

And he added: “Here and now, I will tell you, including the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines: You do anarchy, I will order the soldiers and the police to shoot. Even if I have to bury thousands of Filipinos”.

With that, the likes of twice-failed coup leader, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, were put on notice.

Turning to another pressing problem, the Islamic insurgency in Mindanao – brought into sharp focus two months ago when Islamic State-linked terrorist groups stormed and occupied the Islamic city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur – he defended his decision to impose martial law on the southern island region.

That rebellion, spearheaded by the radical Maute Group, “dealt a terrible blow to our quest for peace, especially now that an alien ideology and a radical shift in purpose have been injected into the local setting,” he said. “I declared martial law in Mindanao because I believed that that was the fastest way to quell the rebellion at the least cost of lives and properties”.

Two days ago, legislators overwhelmingly voted to extend martial-law measures until the end of the year – including the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, allowing the military to arrest, question and detain suspects. And right on cue, his opponents started lining up to criticise that decision. It was the usual chorus line of Liberals and Liberal Party-voting affiliates – senators Franklin Drilon and Risa Hontiveros and House of Representatives member, Edcel Lagman, among them.

Their ‘stated’ objections to the extension is that it’s “too long”; that is has “no factual basis”; that it could “pave the way to a Philippines-wide martial law”. It matters not to them that the extremist groups have declared a caliphate in Mindanao that threatens not just that region but the entire country and the neighbouring lands of Southeast Asia as well.

To those critics of the martial-law declaration he posed this question: “Do you think that if [Islamic State] prevails in this country that you will have a place in their society?”

There was no good news concerning the end of the Battle of Marawi. Right now, the terrorists are holding up to 300 hostages there. They’re in mortal danger which is hampering the retaking of the city by government troops and police units who’ve been instructed to “wait it out”. However, he left those forces in no doubt that he had their backs.

“To those who oppose and think that all these efforts are out of order, I hold myself, me and me alone, should be responsible,” he said. “And I will persist in our goal of attaining peace [up] to the last day of this administration …”

Next, he addressed the perennial problem of corruption, something sadly that’s often defined the Philippines. He said it’s “like a fishbone stuck in the throat. It pains and it is disconcerting. We need to pry corruption from government corpus which is deeply embedded … Believe me, it is easier to build from scratch than to dismantle the rotten and rebuild upon its rubbles”.

Duterte issued a stern warning to employees across government and urged the public to use the complaints hotlines – Malacañang, 8888; the Philippine National Police, 911 – which were launched last August.

Here, he asked for the people’s help: “I cannot stop corruption and wrongdoings if you do not cooperate. You text me … You name the public official. Name his sins in that bulletin and I will take it from there. Do not be afraid about libel. I will take care of that”.

Elsewhere, he ripped into the UN representative in the Philippines for trivialising the effects of drugs and minimising the human rights of drug victims; the media for not reporting accurately and for quoting selectively. He called out the National Democratic Front – the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist coalition – for being a “bully” and an enemy of the state.

Duterte warned online media company, Rappler, that by not being 100% Filipino owned – alluding to its foreign shareholders – it was in contravention of the Constitution. He let it linger there; he didn’t have to say it but the implication was clear – they could be shut down. He threatened mining companies with death by taxation, if they fail to repair damage they’ve caused to the environment.

He urged the Supreme Court to halt the practice of holding-up projects with the issuance of temporary restraining orders – like the one that’s stalled the implementation of the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood Act for the past two-plus years, resulting in the waste of PHP350 million for sub-dermal implants. He warned those evading paying taxes, “This administration will spare no one found cheating the government of its due”.

And he reminded government staff that they work for the public and not the other way round. That they must streamline frontline services and make them more efficient. “The people’s patience is wearing thin. So is mine,” he said.

All in all, then, this was a hard-hitting SONA which left very little doubt as to the president’s commitment to reversing the dark elements of Philippine society which have long stunted the country’s economic development – insurgency, crime and corruption which have deterred investment and kept the Philippines in an economic backwater.

As Duterte explained: “I have learned that economy surges only when there is peace and order prevailing in places where investors can pour [in] their capital and expertise … investor confidence [is] bolstered and fortified only if a potent force and mechanism for [the] protection of local and foreign investments are in place”.

He unmasked the negligence and inaction of the past: “Sadly, although we knew years ago that what was needed or ought to [be done], we did not do [them] because our idea of government was parochial and we could not rise above family, ethnic and clan loyalties as well as loyalty to friends and co-workers. No one wanted to be a snitch”.

What’s abundantly clear from this State of the Nation Address is that while Rodrigo Duterte is at the helm of government whose old ways of doing things have been consigned to the past.

“Despite our recent gains in improving the peace and order situation in the country, there is still so much to be desired and if we are to completely eradicate the menace of illegal drugs, criminality and corruption, we must do it. It is time for us to fulfill our mandate to protect our people from these crimes that have victimised [them],” he said.

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  • There was no list of supposed achievements for epal purposes. But honest to goodness, this is what we still need to do to get the effective change we need. Plus a warning to those few who dare to oppose change. He is working for the majority.

  • Hindi nagbuhat ng sariling banko c Digong as usually done by the past presidents! He precisely described the real state of the nation in his speech which covered almost everything the Pinoys wanted to know.I hope the SC and the lawmakers would do their share and help the President in facilitating his vision of a first world Philippines.

  • Yup at ikaw Hontivirus ang mahilig manghoodwink sa taong bayan…sasabihin mo pa puro kasinungalingan ang sasabihin ni PRRD sa SONA!!…Magbalot balot ka na at manghiram ka ng mukha sa aso!!!

  • A SONA that tells what is real in this archipelago…No sugarcoating ,no icing in the cake,presented as it is with maggots,rotten as perceived by the common people…

  • hontivirus after prejudging PRDs SONA as full of lies or deceit..still that no brainer dressed up n attended the event for all she cares. wtf boy shes really an idiot..

  • #DU30SONA2017…#Repost: from the status of Sir Abe Purugganan-
    Kahapon, ang Pangulong Duterte ay parang isang ama na pinagsasabihan ang kanyang mga anak na makukulit, sinungaling, abusado at pasaway:
    sa opposition, na tumulong at hindi manira at huwag ipokrito;
    sa negosyate at mayayaman, na huwag mapagsamantala, ganid at madamot;
    sa media, na huwag sinungaling at mapaglinlang;
    sa komunista, na huwag magmataas, traydor, at mapang lamang;
    sa empleyado ng gobyerno, na huwag maging tamad,
    abusado at magnakaw;
    sa mga mababatas, na huwag mabagal:
    sa husgado na huwag maging mabagal at korap;
    sa mahilig mag welga, na huwag madrama; at
    sa kriminal at addict, na magbago na; at
    sa terrorista, na magtago na.
    Tumayo siya noong SONA na bilang ama ng bayan at ipinakita niya sa lahat ang kamalian at kahinanaan ng ating bayan. Ipinakita niya rin kung ano ang dapat gawin para ayusin ang ating mga problema.
    Hindi siya bumaba sa antas ng kaisipan at kalokohan ng oposisyon at kritiko niya. Ipinakita niya na siya ang namamayani at naghahari sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan. Idiniin niya na hindi siya natatakot ninuman, kapakanan ng sambayanan ang kanyang lang itataguyod.

  • This is the best SONA that I watched! Truly, I can feel the honesty of Pres. Duterte’s heart during his speech!!! A truly servant of the NATION!!!! LONG LIVE THE PRESIDENT!!!

    • Anong gusto mo ipagsabi niya lahat na nagawa niya ipagyabang hindi ka bulag at bingi may pagbabago na kaya lang hindi madali gawin dahil may mga taong humadlang na di gustong umunlad and ating bansa . Hindi katulad ng amo mong panot laging nagsalita ipagyabang ang nagawa na wala naman . laging sinisisi ang mga nakaraang administration ipinakulong ang mga kalaban binayaran ang kanyang kakampi para lang ma impeach si Corona ngayon ang mga tao na hindi gusto si PRRD mamatay sa ingit at galit.

    • Bakit ako ang tatanungin mo/ Tanungin mo nga ang sarili mo kung hindi kayo nauto sa P15 isang kilong bigas. Tatangaling ang contractual employment? Sample pa lang yan. Pero pakisagot nga.

    • Jepril, mukhang ang utak mo ang wala ng pag-asa. Gong gong ha ha ha… May salita bang gong gong? Pero sa bugok na ito, meron bwa ha haha… Dutertard kasi. Puro bugok.

    • Isa isa lang mr.pen hindi yan kayang pagsabay sabayin dahil marami pa rin ang kontra at humahadlang na kagaya mo atleast kami may nakikita kaming pag usad at pagbabago.. mukhang matanda kana mr.pen kamusta naman ang pension mo sa SSS diba nadagdagan na.. isa kana rin sa nakikinabang sa mga pinatupad ng pangulo.. at kung sakali man pasukin sana bahay mo ng magnanakaw dial ka lang sa central 911 emergency hotline sir.. at kung may reklamo ka nmn sa pamamalakad ng ating pangulo tawag ka sa 888 dun ka magrrklamo siguraduhin mo lang na may matibay kang ebedensya.. wala ka na nga naitutulong dakdak kapa ng dakdak.. ikaw ang isang halimbawa ng taong tumatandang paurong ang utak.. patawarin nawa.. jusko po..

    • siguro po retired na kayo at tumatanggap na ng pension sa gobyerno at malamang nadagdagan nrin po ang pension nyo.matahimik nman po siguro ang buhay nyo,kumakain ng 3 beses isang araw.enjoy nyo na lang po yung natitirang buhay nyo sa mundo.wag na kayong magpa stress kasi baka bigla kayong atakehin sa puso dedo.hayaan nyo na lang po ang gobyerno magtrabaho at gawin ang kanilang mandato.hindi po kasi katulad yan ng natulog ka lang pag gising mo nanalo kna sa boto.o ayos na ang lahat.tuloy tuloy nman po ang ang buhay.habang may buhay may pag asa.relax lang po.maaus nman po yata buhay mo at ng iyong pamilya mo ng nakalipas na isang taon.katunayan nga heto pa fb fb knalang.ipagpasalamat mo nalang.

    • Di nman matutupad ang pangako sa ilang buwan o isang taon. Maraming problema meron tayo ay panahon p ni magellan. Mag-isip k nga. Ang sa yo makakontra lang. Palibhasa tingnan mo nga mga post mo walang likes. Dyan p lng matauhan k na. Gisingin mo utak mo

    • Parang wala akong narinig na binaggit ni tatay digong ni isang achievement sa kanyang administration one year ago?dahil ba sa walang talagang ginagawa ung administration yan?

    • Ah kaya naman pala ayaw nyo payag na sabihing nauto kayo. Asa pa rin kayo na mangyayari ang P15 isang kilo bigas, mawawala ang endo, P100,000 sweldo kada buwan ng pulis, etc. Ha ha ha, hopeless kayo. Pathetic…

    • Sir mag google kau. Di ho ngpromise na gawing 15kilo per bigas. Headlines lng un. Pero basahin mo at pakingkan buong speecb di niya un promise. Pero 3 months na ho ngdadag ng bigas ang government para sa pantawid members. So. Tinupad niya. Ngaun lang din napagawa hospital namin. Ngaun lng naging libre ang patubig butil at fertilizer para s amgsasaka. Kau lng di nakakkita kasi sobrang utouto niyo di na gagaling.

    • sir ganito lang yan, kung ikaw nasa pest control at di mo pa napapasok ang bahay, mag eestimate ka lang kung magkano magagastos ng client mo on an average. pero nung napasok mo na, panibagong nung on going na, don mo plng malalaman ang reality na malala pala ang anay sa bawat sulok ng bahay so another assessment yan. Because u have now access to vital informations.
      Sabi nga ni Francis Kong “identifying the problem is solving half of it”

    • Sìr the president is a human being like us. He is not perfect and have flaws too. He is facing an enormous task! You expect him to solve all the problems overnight? You must be kidding!…most of the problems were inherited from the previous regime. Did crimes,corruption and drug addiction diminished during the terms of penoy administration? At least the president has a political will to implement his policy..besides he has still 5yr term of office to pursue his policy. He cannot do it alone. No matter how good a president is but without the support and backing of the people he will not suceed. So stop being bitter. Complaining will not accomplished anything. Pls widen your horizon!

    • Maboti nalang yan nag tatrabaho yong dati nag parami lang ng shabu lab.. at wala pang ginawa bakit sa amin peaceful na at drug and drunk free pa dyan sa lugar nyo meron pa , kasi maraming protector dyan …

    • Ha ha ha… Kaya pala dutertarda ang tawag sa inyo. Saan nyo napulot ang ganyang klaseng katwiran? Matanong ko nga kayo, ano ba ang accomlishments nitong professional con man na ito? Sasabihin nyo malamang maraminng ipinapatay na addict…

    • Sir hope your family will not be mugged by addicts and get molested..maybe you will come to your you want addicts to roam around the city unopposed?desperate times calls for desperate measures. In times of drought you need rain but reject thunder and lightning that goes with it. How about you how do you call yourself..
      Yellowtard Zombie? Hahaha😂😂😂.Im not ashamed to be called Dutertard!

    • Pen Sortijas sana hindi mabiktima ng mga adik ang pamilya mo… Matuto po kayo magbasa ng news ng mga Gabinete nya… Sa DA na lng ang dami na pong accomplishments ni Sec Pinol pra sa mga magsasaka. Sa investment side tumataas ang GDP natin dahil sa tiwala ng mga investors na mag invest dito sa bansa natin. Less crime na sa street and i feel safe lage kapg uuwe ako kasi wala na akong nakikitang tambay na mga nagiinuman sa kalye at mag adik/pusher sa kanto. Di mo nyu ba nababasa ang pagbaba ng kriminalidad sa bansa natin? Wag po kasi chismiss ang atupagin nyu, tandaan nyu po 30yrs after Marcos era ang ginawang kapabayaan ni Cory up to Pnoy! Sabi nila bumalik n daw ang demokrasya sa Pilipinas at tayo ay aasenso na, sinabi nya yan nung 1986 pah kaso anyare? Nagrally lng ang magsasaka sa Mendiola minasaker niya… Fastforward kay Pnoy, anyare ba? Lumala ang kurapsyon at krimen at Droga, Saf44, Yolanda funds issue. Luneta grandstand hostage taking na maraming dayuhan ang namatay, riding in tandem killings, holdapan sa jeep/fx/uv express. Kabi kabilang akyat bahay crimes, martilyo gang, laglag bala issue sa airport…nakupo andami na kaso hindi ito na address ni Pnoy di ba? Tapos 1yr palang si Pres Du30 sa pwesto ang dami mo nang angal? Kami nga 30yrs kaming nagtiis sa panloloko ng mga yellows nasurvive namin. Kaya tiis tiis lang ha, imbes na ngumawngaw ka dyan, do your part to be a good citizen at magtulungan na lng po tayo. Matanda na po kayo kaya bawas bwasan na ang stress at enjoyin nyu na lng ang pension nyu na pinakinabangan nyu mula sa aming taxpayers. Soon naman makikinabang din kami dyan. Peace!

    • Xam Salazar sa haba ng explanation mo at pati iba kasama n ako pero walang epekto p rin pag matandang ugok ang sinasabihan. Wala na tayong magagawa sa taong lihis ang utak

    • #PresDuterteSupporterAko.. Hindi ba ninyo napapansin ang tingin ng mundo sa atin: #5 na tayo terrorism list, kasama tayo sa most corrupt countries, ang daming bansang may travel advisories against our country esp in the south. Inanay na ang ating istraktura ng gobyerno at kailangan iexterminate ang mga anay na ito para hindi bumagsak ang gusali; kailangan natin ng #MatapangNaPesticide. Or better, if renovation is already not plausible, a change of the whole structure is the best solution, so we can live in a safe and strong abode…This is how our country is now becoz of these destabilizers, rebels, terrorists and other enemies of the state like corrupt govt officials, lameduck govt agencies. So why not a #RevolutionaryGovt or #NationwideMartialLaw for the speedy reorganization and neutralization of the enemies of the State. Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, #disiplina at #patriotismo ang kailangan. And the #military have these two virtues more than the civilians..

    • King inang matanda to nanakawala ka ng respeto ah.. ikaw matanong nga kita ano bang pinaglalaban mot ganyan ang pag iisip mo.. baluktot ang pangangatwiran mo.. di kapa inuna ng mga adik eh nang baka naman matauhan ka sa mga pinag sasasabi yun eh kung di ka lang mapuruhan ng mautas kana kasama ng mga paniniwala mong baluktot.. di ako dutertads bukas lang at mulat ang isipan ko sa kahirapan.. baka mas matalino pa sau mag isip ang grade one eh eh naman..

    • Isa pa tong si mang peter.. samahan ng matatandang ulupong eh.. kamusta nga pala yung isa sa pinaka malaking planta ng droga na kaya mag produce ng 3kilos per day sa virac catanduanes giniba naba ng LGU..? Hanep eh no.. NBI director pa ang pinaka leader oh naghahawak ng planta.. w0w ha.. titibay ng apog nyo..

    • Peter when the president says he will stop drugs, criminality, corruption in six months, this is just a forecast or plan. When you are building a house you have a plan and forecast when the project will be finished.But most of the time the project is not completed as scheduled.It doesnt mean that if he cannot eliminate all these evil things overnight.We know that this forecast is not realistic. No problem he can continue at least he is doing something. What about the previous regime were they able to address the proliferation of drugs and criminality?The world is a dangerous place to live not because of those who do harm but because of people who dont do anything!

  • Amazing job dear president….you are such a great leader…action speaks louder than words…a real man of actions…never used a positive adjectives that will boast his personality and achievements…but instead provided us the real status of this archipelago…i really admire your simplicity and sincerity….long live sir….

  • Natutunaw c ex-pres aquino hàbang nanonood ng sona ni pres du30 sa kanyang speech…don lang nalaman ng mga pilipino ang tunay na history ng mindanào.salamat pg bunyag mo sa larawan ng inyong lugar.

  • Wow!! I was stunned to see Duterte actually go out and meet with the protesters! Where in the world does one see this? This president is a jewel! It’s obvious he cares about his people, which one doesn’t see other presidents do. Cannot help respect this man.

  • Anti dutertes want results that require him to act like a dictator but when he does act like one even for a hot second they start crying out dictator. Gusto ng madalian pero ayaw nang diktador. Anyway, as time passes by the people will see his potential to do absurdly more and they will figure out he is not the problem but the government and its inefficiencies that only favors the rich nd powerful. He wants to giv share that power and wealth to ALL filipinos equally but our laws just wont let him. Oras na lang ang bibilangin… i agree with him it is easier to start the gov from scratch rather than building a nice high class multistorey building upon a shaky and substandard foundation.


  • Tama… Eh lahat naman ng crime before inuupuan lang at hinde pinapansin at short period of time lahat ng sangkot mga governor na bunyag eh noon may ginagawa ba? Kaya you so blind peter madami ang daming kalyeng natapos short period of time maski Tro binabanatan kasi pag tumagal yung project dun couraption na for see ng president yung mga problema lahat sinasagasaan nya kaya wake up ka walang nakaka lusot sa kanya yan yung leader makinig ka kasi yung idol mo kita mo mag trabaho see how the president move talagang na address nya yung problema alam yung solution..tama yung edolohiya na hinde maka tulong kung may namamatay man wag mong e mix 7000 sa vigellant at 2000 lang police opetation dont mislead na walang nahuling riding intandem marami sila eh at sindekato yan sino ba napipilayan yung business? Tigilan nyong mag mislead hinde pa nakaka upo ang president may riding intandem na….mislead kalang…