‘I will end my term fighting’

July 22, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte

President Duterte in his 4th State of the Nation Address.

A PUGNACIOUS President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to end his term fighting persistent corruption and the drug menace as he called for the return of the death penalty.

“I will end my term fighting,” President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday  as he opened his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives.

“Let me begin by extending my hand in gratitude to all who kept faith with me in our most trying times,” Duterte said who started his speech at 5:15 p.m.
The President cited the landslide victory of the administration candidates as proof of the public’s support for him.

“My disapproval rating is three percent. I hope that the members of Congress sana hindi kayo included sa three percent,” he said.

“I will end my term fighting,” he added.

Death penalty

President Duterte again made a strong pitch for the reimposition of the death penalty.

He recounted the May 2017 Marawi City siege carried out by the Maute terrorist group:  
“Tons of shabu worth millions of pesos, drug money, killed 175 and wounded 2,000 and one of my soldiers and policemen in that five-month battle.”

“I am aware that we still have a long way to go against this social menace. (T)he reason why I advocate the imposition of the death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs,” he said.

Duterte earlier expressed openness to revive the death penalty, which the country suspended in 2006, for drug trafficking and other heinous crimes, noting that it will instill fear among criminals.

With the current composition of Congress – with more Duterte allies sitting in the Senate, which previously blocked the measure — the President  is confident  it could be easier to pass the death penalty bill.

I will kill you’

Simplify government transactions or I will kill you.

This was the Presiden’s directive to the Land Transportation Office (LTO),

Social Security System (SSS), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and Pag-IBIG Fund.

The President said those government agencies should simplify their processes using the technology employed by other agencies that have already streamlined their methods.

“Simplify, may I…nandito ba kayo? Simplify, just like the others. You can do it electronically. You do not have to go to the office,” he noted.

“‘Pag hindi pa ninyo nagawa ‘yan ngayon papatayin ko talaga kayo,” he said.
Also,  Duterte called on Congress to postpone the May 2020 barangay elections.

“Congress has to postpone Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to 2022,” he said.

Sea dispute

“In due time.”

President Duterte said as he touched on the issue of the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

“Of course we will do, in due time,” said Duterte on enforcing the historical arbitral ruling, which favored the Philippines and invalidated China’s nine-dash line that claims almost all of the South China Sea including the West Philippine Sea.

He noted that asserting the country’s rights at this point would result in war.

“A shooting war is grief and misery multiplier. War leaves widows and orphans in its wake,” he said.

“I am not ready or inclined for the occurrence of more destruction of more widows and more orphans should war, even on a limited scale, break out,” he added.
”The West Philippines is ours. There is no ifs and buts.”

Duterte reaffirmed this stand in response to criticisms that his administration has supposedly adopted a submissive stance on China’s expansive claims in the disputed areas.

However, Duterte also claimed that the country has to “temper” its claim in accordance with the “realities” of the maritime dispute.

“It is ours but we have been acting along that legal truth and line. But we have to temper it with the times and the realities that we face today,” he said.

He defended his verbal fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping allowing Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The President cited the 2016 Hague ruling that says “the Philippines may enter in a fishing agreement with other states.”

“I was invoking the traditional fishing rights. It was in the arbitral ruling. Ayaw niyo lang tingnan,” he said.

Gov’t pay

Duterte asked Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law that will cover the pay increases of government employees including teachers and nurses.
“Ngayon na,” he said, adding the salary increases for government teachers should be enough to tide them over.

Last month, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that raising a teacher’s pay by P10,000 a month as proposed by some groups would cost the government P150 billion.

Briones said she has been working with the economic team of the government to find measures to increase the salary of 830,000 teachers.

According to Briones, the fiscal impact of the salary increase should be considered and assessed, and that there is an equity issue in relation to issues of other government personnel that need to be addressed.

Teachers have been asking for a pay hike especially after Congress approved a 100% increase in the base pay of military and other uniformed personnel that took effect last year.