The nation looks forward to hearing President Duterte’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress today.
So much has happened in this second year of his administration. The drive against illegal drugs continued without letup but now with assurances against possible police abuses. Maute separatists aided by international ISIS militants launch a siege of Marawi City which the government finally ended in December, 2017.
In November, the leaders of the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Manila among themselves and then with the heads of their partner nations, with United States President Donald Trump leading the foreign leaders. President Duterte himself visited Brunei and Japan, in October, 2017, Vietnam in November, India in January, 2018, China and Singapore in April, South Korean in June, and Malaysia this July.
To many in the Philippines, especially those in the tourism and service industries, the big story was the closing of Boracay to tourists last May, as it had become a “cesspool,” to use the description by the President. It will finally be reopened this October.
In his SONA today, the President will have something to say about these and other significant events in the second year of his administration, but more recent events loom large today in the people’s perception and they will be expecting the President to take them up in his SONA today.
Possibly the greatest concern of most people today is inflation – rising prices – and its possible relationship with the new taxes imposed by the TRAIN law, the breakdown of talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines with the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front, the concern over our islands in the South China Sea, and the debate on federalism and the revision of the Constitution.
The brightest spot on the administration’s program of government today is “Build, Build, Build,” with which it expects to construct billions of pesos worth of roads and bridges, airports and seaports, school and other government buildings, that will boost overall economic development and create employment for so many people.
The President will no doubt cite so many great statistics, including the country’s Gross National Product (GNP), which is among the highest in Asia today. But the President, we expect, will concentrate not so much on statistics as on ordinary people’s concerns, on bringing them closer together as a nation, on achieving peace in their daily lives, and on generally improving the lives of the urban poor, rural peasants, women, and the youth.
We look forward to these plans and programs – more than a report on achievements in the last year – in President Duterte’s State-of-the-Nation Address today.