As The Bamboos Sway: This time, Duterte is not bound to fulfill SONA promises


By sheer technicality, President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte is not bound, this time, to fulfill his State of the Nation (SONA) promises. Technically, the SONA could not be on the record as the Lower House has not really been opened and closed for session on July 23, 2018.

In an ambush maneuver, before the SONA, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) was elected as the Lower House Speaker, replacing Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez. Although Alvarez questioned the vote, asserting that it was not a valid election as “there was no secretary-general, no stenographers, no sound system,” Arroyo took the oath and, technically, was already the speaker before Digong’s SONA. And although Digong met with them (which delayed the SONA for an hour and a half) and allowed Alvarez to still preside for the lower house in consideration of him saving face in public, specially that foreign dignitaries were in the audience, this consideration is at the expense of the session being out of order.

Thus, when Alvarez banged the gable to open and close the session of the lower house, though it was loud, it was mute. Thus, for all the show of the SONA, declaring no work for government offices and no classes for students, the lower house session is invalid.

Being “not on the record,” Digong cannot be held accountable and does not have to be bound to fulfill his promises espoused at his SONA. He is not bound to fulfill his expressed priorities. Topping these priorities is checking that rice tariffication should be in order. Second is a reiteration and reassertion of the tax reform law which constitutes his TRAIN. The others include lowering the interconnection rates between telecommunications industry players, universal health care, end of contractualization, environment protection, war on drugs and corruption, disaster management, protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), defense of the West Philippine Seas, land use act, and the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

No, he is not obligated to fulfill any these.

He will, however, for sure continue the killings on his war on drugs which would be “more relentless and chilling.” Corruption in the government will also continue. Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal is back and he could not do anything about it like he did not have anything to do with it. He will continue spending his time accumulating more money from the TRAIN Law and other resources like loans from China and OFW remittances to align his forces against his so-called enemies who he now believes out to kill him. He will continue to spend more on his military force which he uses, trying to stop the growing resistance against his bloody regime.

One notable that differentiates this recent SONA from the first ones and his other speeches is his staying with the written text and not using foul language. While others find this praiseworthy, this is actually a reflection of his admitting that he is losing his grip on his power. He is no longer feeling secure about his power that his confidence to be himself – foul mouthed with don’t care attitude – has largely diminished. For one thing, the squabble within his party arising from the GMA faction triumph over Alvarez camp is fast chipping on his political armor. Instead of him running things his way, he has become stringed by puppeteers. For another thing, the Marcos camp had been handling the strings from the beginning. Yes, he trying to behave.

We should also emphasize that SONA stands for State of the Nation Address. State means where are we now, the present from the past. This would imply that from the last time, how have we progressed? There was no significant progress report on anything. Instead there were more palliative promises, reiterations I might say, of solving problems that he had identified from day one of his presidency. Meaning his war on drugs have not been solved, corruption is back with a vengeance, OFWs still suffer abroad, ENDO is still on, no land reform, no industrialization, no stopping the plummet of the peso, no solution to maritime conflict with China, no peace talks, and many more.

Oh! Well. As I’ve said, the SONA did not technically happen on the record. So, he could not really be accountable anymore. After all, as Agot Isidro had said: SONA actually means “Same Old Nonsense Anyway.”#