On Monday, July 25, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivered his first ever State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the 17th Congress opening at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
In his opening statement, unity and the promise of a progressive future were foremost in the mind of the first Mindanaoan president.
“We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from,” he said at the beginning of his hour and a half speech.
While his SONA addressed a variety of national and international issues, from the government’s war on drugs to its tough stance on corrupt public officials to the South China Sea dispute, it is perhaps the plans on tax, flood control, streamlining of government document processing, among others that we think will reverberate the most. After all, it addresses long-held grievances of ordinary Filipinos.
What can the tax-paying, law-abiding, and hard-working Filipino citizen expect from the Duterte administration in the next six years ? Here are 17 SONA takeaways:
1. He promises to lower taxes. “On taxation, my administration will pursue tax reforms towards a simpler and more equitable and more efficient tax system that can foster investment and job creation. We will lower personal and corporate income tax rates and relax the bank secrecy law.”
2. He will implement Reproductive Health Law “The implementation of the responsible parenthood and reproductive health law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor will have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force.”
3. He will make businesses better. “We shall also enhance local business environment by addressing bottlenecks in business registration and processing, streamlining investment applications and process the integration of the services of various government offices.”
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4. There is a plan for Metro Manila’s floods. “We shall be implementing structural mitigation to make sure we address the perennial flooding in Metro Manila. And, in neighboring areas, we shall put up new pumping stations in strategic places.”
5. There will be a tough campaign on infrastructure. “Our anti-colorum campaign and out-of-line apprehension including the removal of terminals will be intensified. And, my God, it will be done immediately to address lack of road infrastructure in Metro Manila, usage of existing roads will be maximized.”
6. He will streamline the release of government-issued documents. “Processing time in issuing permits and licenses will be reduced to the barest minimum. In my city, it is always three days for local governments.”
7. A corruption complaint hotline will be established. “Now I will be establishing 8888, only dedicated to corruption. Pag may narinig ako sa executive department, even a whisper, hiwalay-hiwalay na tayo.”
8. He wants to extend the validity of the driver’s license. “For the driver’s license, its effectiveness will be extended from the current three-year period to five years.”
9. He has a plan to reduce ticketing queues at train stations. “To reduce queuing time at ticketing stations, tickets sa mga train will be made readily available and easily accessible to the riding public kung bilihin mo yan sa mga malls, stalls and stores.”
10. He has solutions to train woes. “Passenger capacity congestion shall be addressed by increasing the number of running trains from the current 16 trains with a total of 48 cars per hour to 20 trains with a total 60 cars per hours.”“You increase the train speed from 40kph to 60 kph.”“Specifically for the LRT, the operating hours will be extended from 930 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.”
11. He will improve Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). “Different approaches are also being considered to decongest NAIA including the possible transfer of general aviation…I’m offering Sangley point… but, if not, then it’s going to be Clark…The Clark Airport can be utilized to ship some operations of our domestic and international airlines.”
12. He is extending better services to OFWs. “A one-stop shop will be established in the civil aviation complex for the benefit of the Overseas Filipino Workers.”
13. He shall work on extending passport validity. "On the clamor of our citizens for the timely issuance of Philippine passports, the government shall work towards amendment of the 1996 passport law to lengthen the validity of the passports from the current 5 years to 10 years.”
14. He wants free WiFI for all and to solve the country’s lagging Internet speed. “I have also ordered the newly created DICT (Department of Informatiations Technology) to develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optics cables and wireless technologies to improve Internet speed…Wifi access shall be provided at no charge in selected public places, including parks, plazas, public libraries schools, governmentt hospitals, train stations, airports and seaports.”
15. His education mandate will include his war on drugs. “We are planning to increase spending on basic education and incorporating mandatory education about the evils of drugs…We will also intensify and expand an alternative learning system programs.”
16. He wants health insurance for the whole country. “The government will also provide universal health insurance for all Filipinos…The professional competence and operational capabilities of government hospitals and health facilities will be strengthened.”
17. He vows to protect women and their rights. “Consistent with our international obligations and keeping with national mandates, this administration vows to protect women’s rights and human rights abuses against our women because it is unacceptable [na] magbugbog ka ng babae.”