TEN weeks after becoming the first president from Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte will address Congress today with his plans for delivering his campaign promises.
As for the Association of Barangay Councils in Cebu City, their president Philip Zafra said they’re hoping that Duterte will name the mayors and other members of law enforcement agencies who are allegedly coddling drug lords, during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“It is important that the public will know,” the Tisa barangay chief said.
City of Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong is also excited about what Duterte plans to reveal in his SONA, including the possibility of naming the mayors allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
“He is an unpredictable person. Excited ta ug unsa ang iyang ipangstorya,” the lawyer added.
This afternoon, President Duterte will address Congress for the first time since winning by more than 16 million votes in the May 9 elections. The first SONA usually gives a new president the chance to outline priorities and ask legislators to support these by passing the needed laws.
Zafra also said the village captains are hoping that President Duterte will discuss how he will empower the barangays in his administration and if he will support and ask Congress to pass the Barangay Reform Bill.
“The bill will protect the barangay, especially its workers. Some barangay workers have served for years but still lack job security. We also want them to receive a salary, not just an honorarium,” he said.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma hopes to hear the Duterte administration’s plans to revamp the bureaucracy and hasten the delivery of government services.
“I wish to hear the same desire or commitment to really implement the law, the promise that all will be equal before the law, and the promise that the government should not make people suffer, such as removing all red tape,” the archbishop said.
He added: “I know that change for the better is bound to happen in this administration but I also pray that the President will do things within the bounds of the law.”
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he would rather not reveal what he thinks President Duterte will emphasize in today’s speech.
“I can guess but I don’t have any special knowledge on what he will discuss, so I will not open my mouth na lang,” said the mayor, who is on vacation in Japan.
He was not invited to attend the SONA.
For her part, Mayor Chiong also said she wants to hear if President Duterte plans to implement programs that will benefit local government units.
She also wonders if he will sustain programs from the previous administration, such as Bottoms-Up Budgeting (BUB), which allowed people’s organizations to recommend infrastructure programs, and the conditional cash transfers to help poor families feed and send their children to school, or the Pantawid Pampamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza are hoping that President Duterte will present his plan on the fight against illegal drugs.
“I hope, first and foremost, he will mention the fight against illegal drugs. We hope that he will present what has been accomplished in the war against illegal drugs,” Quisumbing said.
He also hopes that Duterte will mention what he will do to fight corruption in his administration.
“Dako kog expectations niya for the reason nga gikan sad siya sa pagkamayor (I expect a lot from him because he served as a mayor before he became president),” Radaza said.
She hopes to hear about his administration’s plans for cities and barangays.
Bantayan Mayor Art Despi said he would like to hear President Duterte’s orders or advice for local governments, on managing the large number of suspected drug users or pushers who have gone to the police, in response to Oplan Tokhang.
At least 700 individuals have presented themselves to the authorities in Bantayan town alone, he said.
“Government has a program for them, but there is still a big gap,” he added.
Some of Cebu’s business leaders are hoping to hear about detailed plans for tax reform and government decentralization.
“We are eagerly looking forward to the first SONA of President Duterte as I have heard he will focus on the details of his 10-point agenda. We hope his pronouncements will fulfill his promise of change and concretize his fierce action to enforce new laws for a better Philippines, especially on the issue of comprehensive tax reform.
We believe this will greatly favor our competitiveness and support the ease of doing business in our country,” said Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
She added: “President Duterte seems to be a man of action. We look forward to hearing more of his strong concrete plans for change to match his fierce rhetoric, and fewer expletives.”
Cebu Business Club President Gordon Alan Joseph said he also looks forward to the details of President Duterte’s 10-point economic agenda.
“I don’t really expect to hear anything new but I would like details,” Joseph said.
Aside from his socio-economic agenda, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Glenn Anthony Soco said he would like to hear the president’s proposed shift to a federal form of government, as well as his administration’s plans for Cebu.
The police are on heightened alert today for the SONA.
In Central Visayas, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said they will tighten security measures in vital installations and public places where people converge, like malls.
“If there will be rallyists, I urge them to do it peacefully, and maximum tolerance will be observed,” said Taliño.
Singer-actress Mystica, who is now a supporter of the chief executive, said she would like to hear President Duterte promise that he won’t stop going after criminals and corrupt law enforcers.
Her videotaped rant against then presidential candidate Duterte went viral last April, but the 48-year-old performer is now a supporter of the first president from Mindanao.
“Dapat gamitin ang pondo ng pamahalaan sa tamang paraan at kung sinuman ang mga nagnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan, sila ang dapat unahing parusahan at bitayin (Government’s funds should be used correctly, and whoever steals from it should be the first ones to be punished and hanged),” added Mystica, who answered Sun.Star Cebu’s questions on Facebook. (Her real name is Ruby Rose Villanueva Cassidy.)
She said that since her video against Duterte went viral, she has lost some job opportunities.
For educator Ranulfo Visaya Jr., it would be good if the president’s first SONA mentions his “agenda for education, climate change, arts and culture.”
Visaya serves as the school director of Benedicto College.
Tungkil National High School teacher Jeanne Margaret Villasencio said she wants to know Duterte’s stand on the K-12 program of the education department, which expanded the basic education curriculum by adding two years of high school. (This was a program pursued during the administrations of Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.)
Villasencio wants to hear how the former Davao City mayor plans to address persistent problems like the shortage of classrooms, books and computers.
“Until now, wala pa nasulbad (these have yet to be solved),” she said.
Nesmae Desabile, 21, who graduated with a degree in education, cum laude, last March said he would appreciate an announcement of scholarship support for at least one person in each family.
“Bahala’g usa lang basta until college ang pag-support (It’s fine if only one family member receives support, for as long as it’s all the way through college,” said the new graduate, who hails from Kinatarcan Island in Sta. Fe.
Fisherman Diosdado Legaspino, 54, from Barangay Sulangan, also in Sta. Fe, said he hopes the president will talk about meeting the needs of island residents.
“Mapansin unta mi diri sa isla, hatagan unta mi og lain-laing livelihood (We hope that those of us who live in the islands will also get his attention, and be given other livelihood options,” he said.
Lawyer Clarence Paul Oaminal, a former official of the Dangerous Drugs Board, said he wants to hear about the cleansing of government’s ranks, and that it will include prosecutors and judges.
“If our courts and our prosecutorial arms have been infiltrated by the corrupt, our campaign (against illegal drugs) will be useless,” he said.(Katlene O. Cacho, Kevin A. Lagunda, Flornisa M. Gitgano, Oscar C. Pineda)