President Duterte said that he will go after those who were taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic for their own interests including Senator Franklin Drilon, oligarchs, criminals, and online scammers.
In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, President Duterte lamented how there are people who are taking advantage of the pandemic to advance their interests.
“My countrymen, it is sad that while [the] government focuses its attention and resources to battle the coronavirus, there are those who take advantage of a preoccupied government. One of them is Senator Frank Drilon,” he said.
Drilon and oligarchy
According to Duterte, Drilon “arrogantly” mentioned among others that oligarchs need not be rich and linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was his children who all have positions in government, save for his youngest.
The President accused the opposition senator of defending the Lopezes who own ABS-CBN because his statement was made after the House of Representatives denied the network’s application for a new franchise.
“Great wealth enables economic elites and corporations to influence public policy to their advantage,” he said.
“Media is a powerful tool in the hands of oligarchs like the Lopezes who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures. I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election,” he added.
In his speech, President Duterte said there was a need to protect the consumers as online transactions thrive to reduce the risk of being infected by COVID-19.
“We must patrol the country’s cyberspace and enforce online consumer and data protection and privacy laws. We must run after online scammers and those undermining the people’s trust in online transactions,” he said.
“We must continue to protect Filipinos in the new normal and remind the world that we are responsible stewards of data. I am committed to protecting both the physical and digital lives of our law-abiding countrymen,” he added.
The President directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure the empowerment of Filipinos on their consumer rights, and coordinate strategies between public and private organizations in building a fair, safe, resilient, and sustainable economy.
According to the President, there are welcome developments for the e-Commerce industry but major economic activities take place in a borderless environment with meager regulatory controls.
“They expose consumers to various risks related to security, data privacy, and misrepresentation,” he said.
Duterte said the government will lead the way in the transition to online systems, calling all government instrumentalities to implement systems that will make physical queuing a thing of the past.
Duterte likewise renewed his vow to go after the corrupt people in government.
“The profiteers, over-pricers, and corrupt felons must be laughing while they stash their dirty monies. But not for long. They cannot outrun the long arm of the law,” he said.
“The corrupt, the grafters, and the influence peddlers also take advantage of the fear and confusion that the coronavirus generates. The financial and material assistance of the government to the unemployed, the sick, and the destitute running into billions of pesos, are not spared from corruption and ineptitude,” he added.
The President also claimed that even the donations from well-meaning private persons are skimmed before reaching their intended beneficiaries.
“It is like snatching food from the mouths of babes,” he said.
According to the President, he will make sure that as long as he is still in office, the country will remain relatively peaceful.
He assured the public that there will be no runaway crime in any city, warning criminals that they know what will happen to them if they commit such acts.
“You know what will happen to you. I am addressing myself to the criminals. You commit hold-ups, you commit rape, you commit all sorts of things, and you harm the public. Then, kaaway mo na ako (I will be your enemy),” Duterte said.
“‘Pag bumalik kayo sa dati, kagaya noon, patong patong na naman ang patay dito. Sigurado, hahanapin ko kayo (If you go back to your old ways, cadavers will start piling up again. I assure you that I will go after you),” he added.