When President Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) today before Congress in joint session at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City, he is likely to touch on so many issues and incidents that have recently affected the nation.
Thus we may expect him to mention Congress’ action on such issues as the Anti-Terrorism Law and the ABS-CBN franchise, the unusual circumstances in the death of 29 prisoners at the National Penitentiary, including anti-De Lima witness Jaybee Niño Sebastian, the killing of four Army intelligence officers by eight Sulu policemen, the continuing dispute over islands in the South China Sea.
But the nation will be looking forward most of all to what the President has to say about the COVID-19 pandemic which has placed the entire country – the whole world, for that matter – in a kind of suspended animation.
For four months now, most of the country’s activities – personal, social, political, economic, even religious – have been put on hold, while our hospitals struggle to deal with the thousands of coronavirus infections.
In previous years, we had such national concerns as the confrontations in the South China Sea highlighted by the Arbitral Court ruling in 2016, the siege of Marawi City in 2017, the precipitous rise in inflation or market prices in 2018, the heavy typhoon damage and floods or drought nearly every year. But this year, there seems to be only one overriding problem and concern for the nation — the COVID-19 pandemic.
That, therefore, is likely to dominate the President’s State of the Nation Address today.
The infections and deaths continue to rise every day, despite the best efforts of the national government and local government units. After four months of lockdowns that closed down or severely reduced the operations of all kinds of business enterprises, the country is in recession and the nation’s business enterprises have called for a reopening of the economy.
We are not alone in facing this problem. The world’s richest and most powerful nation, the United States, is today the epicenter of the pandemic. Brazil and other South American nations, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Russia in Europe, Iran and Israel in the Middle East, India and other Asian nations, most of Africa – all are suffering today from the pandemic and the economic breakdown it has caused.
When President Duterte stands to deliver his State of the Nation Address today, he can truly say we have not fared as badly as these other nations. But there is much that could have been done and much that we may have to do in the coming months and we are all looking to the President to lead us.
Previous SONAs of this and previous presidents have been known for their listing of accomplishments that have contributed to progress in the state of the nation. For the SONA today, the people will be looking more for leadership and an action plan to overcome this plague.
The people know that the State of the Nation today is not too good because of the plague. But they continue to look with hope to the President and his plans and they will listen with hope that these plans will lead us through and away from the disaster into which we have fallen.