The ANC Brief: SONA hits and misses

As expected, the war on drugs, corruption, and the West Philippine Sea were major points in the president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday. Here are the big stories making the headlines on ANC today:

“In due time”
President Duterte promised to “educate” his critics on government’s moves in the West Philippine Sea in his State of the Nation Address (SONA). But what he said in the actual speech wasn’t entirely new. He told those who are asking government to stop those who are fishing in our waters that government would do so in due time. He also said the West Philippine Sea is ours no ifs and buts. He also defended his verbal deal with China on fishing in the country’s waters. 

On the economy
President Duterte called on Congress to pass the Trabaho Bill or TRAIN 2 and hikes in excise taxes on sin products. He also asked Congress to pass a law on the urgent utilization of the coconut levy funds. The president also said there was no corruption in the deal for the entry of the third telco. It’s a deal won by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy who is said to be close to the president and one of his biggest campaign contributors. Will the new tranche of tax reforms benefits businesses and consumers? In an ambush interview after his speech, he said he is still studying the Security of Tenure bill that could end contractualization.

Legislating death
Early in his SONA, President Duterte pushed for the reimposition of the death penalty for drugs and plunder. With a supermajority in Congress, a bill on the death penalty filed by the President’s former Man Friday Bong Go, looks like a done deal. Critics have said that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. It will also not reflect well on the country’s already damaged reputation on human rights before the eyes of the world. This issue is sure to arouse debate in the months to come. Do we need the death penalty to stamp out the drug menace?

Presidential wish list
On corruption, President Duterte told the public to confront corrupt officials and make a scene. He also said government agencies and local governments to release business permits in three days. He also said local governments should reduce traffic by reclaiming all public roads being used for private purposes. Among other laws he is calling for: the Salary Standardization Law, a National Land Use Act, a Right-Sizing bill that reorganizes the bureaucracy, a Department of Water Resources, and the revival of the ROTC program. He also said this was not the time to talk about charter change. 

Persistence of memory
Palacio de Memoria is hosting its first ever heritage weekend dubbed “Tertulia de Memoria” on July 27 and 28. One of the highlights of the two-day event is the screening of Peque Gallaga’s modern classic Oro, Plata, Mata and Eddie Romero’s grandiose Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon—which will have the seven-storey mansion as a fitting backdrop.

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