President Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) today, July 26, will not be met with public approval, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said.
“Contrary to all the President’s expectations, his speech shall not be met by cheers and calls for his brand of leadership to continue, but by a chorus of jeers from a people who are starving for genuine change,” the NUPL said in a statement.
It also said: “Contrary to his expectations, the President shall be addressing a people not ready to move on and find closure in the twilight of his administration. Instead, he faces a people resolved to seek vindication – in the courts, in the ballot, in the streets, and even across the seas and in the horizons.”
The NUPL said the SONA will be made amidst the possibility that the President could be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the “thousands of extra-judicial killings prompted by this administration’s flagship program – the so-called war against drugs….”
“The said transgressions continue to jar the national conscience and consciousness that individuals and organizations have devoted their efforts to pursue accountability measures for all the blood that has been shed, demonstrating that the president, beyond the polished halls of what is called the House of Representatives, shall address a raging people,” it pointed out.
It recounted that for the past years the administration made “efforts to curtail civil liberties and crush dissent through authoritarian rants and draconian decrees and the pouring of billions of pesos into a McCarthyist task force, the jailing of political opponents, and the rapacious filing of trumped-up charges against activists.”
Despite this, it said, “the President faces not a people cowed by fear, but a people with stronger imperatives to defy.”
“For the five years spent weaponizing the law against opposition, he faces an aegis of human rights lawyers more committed than ever to the tenets of democracy,” it said.
It also said that the President will not be addressing “a populace dazzled by his recitals of his administration’s purported accomplishments” but “a baffled people made more destitute under the government’s handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”