THERE were yawning and restlessness during the 4th State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 22, 2019, in what was a rather long discourse on what he has accomplished, what laws he wants Congress to pass, marching orders both to elected and appointed officials, spiced up with the usual cuss words, sexist remarks and off-tangent jokes. Typical Duterte.
But it is not the length that makes a good speech, it is the substance, the language used and that this inspires. When the President said, “We, in government, talk too much, act too little, and too slow... We are long on rhetoric but short on accomplishments. It’s either you Congress or—even the executive department and maybe me. So I am here to rectify my own error,” there was hope for a short, direct and inspiring address but it didn’t turn out that way.
The war against drugs and terrorists remains in the President’s agenda. Even as the body count continues to rise, there seems to be no end to the social menace. He is calling on the re-imposition of the death penalty not just for those involved in drugs, but also, in plunder, as these two are likely linked to each other. With the President’s high approval rating and resounding victory in the recent election, he will get his law on death penalty soon, even with the opposition from the church and pro-life advocates.
He mentioned laudable proposals, such as the establishment of the National Academy for Sports, the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, the Department of Disaster Resilience and the Department of Water Resources. Giving bonuses to medalists is fine, but more important are professional mentors and overseas exposure of gifted individuals. A Department of Overseas Filipino Workers can give utmost attention to the plight of Filipinos who work in other countries. The Department of Foreign Affairs does not have the resources to address most of the concerns of OFWs. And there is need to police recruiters and employment agencies that exploit those seeking greener pastures.
A Department of Disaster Resilience should have existed a long time ago, knowing the number of typhoons and other calamities that strike the country. A Department of Water Resources may have been thought of as a result of the recent water shortage in Metro Manila. Yet we must come to realize that water scarcity threatens the world’s population. The 2019 World Economic Forum reports that one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impact over the next decade is water scarcity. Today, it affects half of the world’s largest cities.
The President’s adlibs spoiled a well-written speech. His candidness though revealed his innermost thoughts, that he is tired and unhappy in office. How’s that for inspiration?