25 July 2016

Following Duterte’s SONA steps
Where are you when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte makes his mark in history as he delivers his first State of the Nation Address?

Follow the President the moment he arrives mid-afternoon at the House of Representatives where he will be welcomed by the Senate President and House Speaker.

The President will then stop by at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) before proceeding to the Session Hall for the joint session of Congress.

After the Senate President and House Speaker call the joint session to order, President Duterte will then deliver his first SONA.

The Palace earlier mentioned it wanted to center on what the President’s message is to our people. The speech will be a reflection of the President’s low-key but compelling personality, more concerned with substance than pomp.

Veering away from the finger pointing and blame game of the past, President Duterte instructed the members of his Cabinet to submit their inputs to the SONA. These include agency targets and deliverables to accomplish his vision of genuine and meaningful change in the next six years. The speech is likewise an opportunity for the President to spell out his legislative agenda to both Houses of Congress.

Duterte’s first SONA is also expected to touch on his campaign promises and enumerate his achievements in fighting drugs, crime, and corruption and in winning the peace in all fronts in the 25 days he has been in office.

“The SONA was revised several times,” revealed Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

“And it will be in English as the President is more comfortable speaking in this language,” Andanar said.

“The speech would probably last based on our online application to calculate our actual time is more or less 38 minutes. If you would include the applause and some ad libs by the President, it could take longer,” Secretary Andanar ended.

Whatever pronouncements the President will say in his speech – the highlight of the SONA – one thing is certain: Our people will be glued to their television sets and listen to the “powerful message of change” set to chart the nation’s course in the next six years. (PND)

Duterte: Unilateral ceasefire with reds
President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF as he urged them to end decades of ambuscades and skirmishes.

The President made the announcement in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Duterte said, “To immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of peace negotiations, I am announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately.”

The Philippine government is set to formally resume peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF in Oslo, Norway from Aug 20 to 27.

In June, then President-elect Duterte jumpstarted the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF even before assuming the presidency by ordering his future Cabinet members Jesus Dureza and Silvestre Bello to hold preliminary talks with the founding Chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison who is on self-exile in the Netherlands.

Peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF reached a breakthrough in the early days of the Duterte administration after it was stalled in 2011, when the two parties failed to reach a settlement on the issue of the release of 14 detained NDF consultants as their precondition to return to the negotiating table.

PRRD maps out plans to uplift living conditions of the poor
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Monday to improve the economic conditions in the country through manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, especially in rural areas.

“We must also invest in human capital and ensure equal access to economic opportunities,” the President said in his First State of the Nation Address (SONA), adding that “when employment is not an option, for instance in extremely rural neighborhoods, entrepreneurship would be advocated.”

He said his administration will also enhance the local business environment by addressing bottlenecks in business registration and processing, streamlining investment application processes, and integrating the services of various government offices.

Government financial institutions (GFIs) shall come up with out-of-the box financing packages to capacitate small and medium entrepreneurs, he said. In the tourism sector, the Duterte administration will construct more access roads and tourism gateways to service centers and vacation destinations.

Road development projects will complement the government’s thrust to provide modern agriculture infrastructure by expanding and improving farm-to-market roads, accelerating the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and establishing modern harvest and post-harvest facilities to minimize losses, the President said.

PRRD disclosed that a nationwide soil analysis will be conducted to determine areas most suitable for rice farming to optimize production with the use of effective soil rehabilitation and fertilization. To fight illegal fishing, the government will strictly implement the country’s fishery laws and promote aquaculture in backyards and along river banks.

To accelerate infrastructure spending, the administration will improve national roads and bridges as well as implement the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network and other road network master plans. “We shall also pursue inter-island linkage projects,” he said.

The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law must be put into full force so that couples, especially the poor, have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children they want. According to PRRD, this will enable Filipino couples to adequately care and provide for their children and eventually make them more productive members of the labor force.

To promote, protect, and fulfill the rights of the citizens, especially the poor, social justice will be pursued, and the rule of law shall prevail at all times. “My administration shall implement a human approach to development and governance, as we improve our people’s welfare in the areas of health, education, adequate food and housing, environmental preservation, and respect for culture,” President Duterte said. PND

The SONA of many firsts
The first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, broke a lot of records, protocols, and milestones.

For the first time in the history of the SONA, militant groups were allowed to stage their rally near the Bataan Complex — lining up the streets sans barbed wires along IBP Road up to Quezon City Polytechnic University, where a stage had been set up for their activities. Only the center aisle separated the police forces and the left-wing demonstrators, who happened to be on the side of the government this time — another first because they called their mass action “kilos-suporta” rather than “kilos-protesta”

In terms of protocol, business attire instead of the traditional long gowns and elegant Barong Tagalog were the fashion of the day. All guests and attendees, VIPs or not, were required to pass through security check.

Moreover, the elections of Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as Senate President and Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez as Speaker of the House has brought about a formidable all-Mindanaoan triumvirate in the country’s leadership.

President Duterte who is from Davao City, Senate President Pimentel from Cagayan de Oro City, and House Speaker Alvarez from Davao del Norte are holding three of the four highest positions in the land today based on succession.

In addition, it’s the first time that a child of a former Senate President has become Senate President as well. Sen. Koko Pimentel’s father, former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., served as Senate President in 2000-2001.

All living former Philippine Presidents, except Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, were present, namely: Fidel V. Ramos, special Philippine envoy to China; Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada; and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Duterte must have been fortunate to have the most number of former Presidents to grace his first SONA.

Internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza directed the momentous event. Mindanao-based folk singer Bayang Barrios sang the National Anthem.

The powerful SONA, which was estimated to last for 38 minutes, went over an hour overtime as a number of important national issues and legislative proposals were tackled by the President. (PND)