Abellanosa: Getting near the Sona

Fringes and frontiers

SPECULATIONS are getting deep as to what the president will say for his State of the Nation Address (Sona) 2019. Just an honest view, though, there seems nothing to expect from another round of glorified presidential ranting.

Three years have passed since he first assumed office and we cannot but ask how far has this presidency reached? Where has it succeeded and where has it failed? Obviously the diehard supporters of Malacañang will never admit that there is any failure in this current administration. We are in a golden age, they believe, despite the fact that we have been ditched into the mud a number of times the past years.

Arguably overshadowing the issue on the war on drugs is the administration’s apparent inability to stand against China’s bullying.

The main problem with the current situation is the fact that it is our own government covering up the bully. Government tacticians would call the president’s approach “proactive.” On the contrary it is more of cowardice for one reason or another. It is true that China is a growing economy and we cannot afford to go to war. But does this mean that we just allow our country to be raped by a rich neighbor?

In the area of human rights – the current administration has also failed. Again, this is an unacceptable assessment for the president’s supporters. They would invoke the importance of peace and order over individual liberties. Precisely, rights for the supporters of the “war on drugs” are valueless compared to the tranquility that has been long desired in this country. I understand that most if not all of us have been victims of criminalities ranging from the least threatening to the most heinous.

But God forbid if in our desperation for peace we would end up wishing for the silence of the cemeteries.

What is more unfortunate is the fact that for all its propaganda, the victims of extra judicial killings (EJK) are mostly coming from the lower classes of society. The reality about the problem of drugs in this country is far greater than the circulation of “marijuana” and “shabu.”

Authorities sometimes overlook other substances that are practically accessible in pharmacies. Have authorities checked if there are no drug users within gated communities? Sadly, drug users among the privileged or even among the middle class are difficult to penetrate because of the layers of social protection (e.g. structured communities, security, availability of lawyers, political connections etc.) The war on drugs of this administration therefore is a war against a certain “class” of drug users.

There are good things though which have happened under this administration. The proposed expanded maternity leave (Republic Act 11210) has finally become a law early this year. This is most welcome by many in the labor sector especially among women’s groups. The Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036) was also signed in 2018. Some have considered the Train law as an achievement. Although it has increased the take home pay or disposable income of many workers, it would be too early to conclude that in the greater scheme of things, the said law would equate to a better economy in the macro level.

Duterte still has half of his term to continue his promises and fulfill those promises that have not yet been concretized so far. But there is one thing which many of the president’s supporters, admirers, and even analysts have missed in their appraisal of the president’s performance.

It is also important to keep in mind the kind of politics and political system he will leave to the Filipino people (should he step down in 2022). Will we be a people more united, more trusted and trusting, and more uplifted? Will the Republic of the Philippines remain a country worth the respect of its neighbors especially China? Best if we end with words from the president’s first Sona:

“Lest I be misunderstood, let me say clearly, that those who betrayed the people’s trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in Court. And if the evidence warrants, they will have their day of reckoning too.”

The president has three more years to go. Hopefully, he will not fulfill his own prophecy.


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