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Duterte admits drugs, corruption still major problems in final SONA

27 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Duterte's last SONA lasted three hours, and was punctuated by many adlibs

President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his sixth and last State of the Nation Address,  admitting that drugs and corruption, which he vowed to wipe out when he assumed the presidency in July 2016, are still festering.

But in his three-hour-speech, which the President said is “less in vision but more in remembrances,” he praised his government’s accomplishments in the five years that he had been in office.


“Our economy was poised to leapfrog … to be among one of the fastest-growing economies until Covid-19 pandemic stalled everything,” Duterte said in his rambling speech punctuated by frequent ad libs.

This year’s “hybrid SONA” combined the proceedings at the Batasan that was attended by about 350 guests and lawmakers, with online attendance by government figures including Vice President Leni Robredo and past presidents.

Duterte thanked the frontliners in the fight against the pandemic for their sacrifices, risking their own safety, as well as the private sector for coming to the aid of the government in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic before talking a long list of topics.

He said providing free education, universal health care, free irrigation to farmers, were among his many visions when he took over the presidency, but realized he had no funds for such projects. Nevertheless, he said, they have been implemented.


Duterte said while his government turned its attention to projects and programs to improve the lives of the people, the perennial problems of drugs and corruption again reared their ugly heads.

Looking back at his drug war, he said he promoted his trusted Davao City chief of police, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, to head the Philippine National Police, with orders to hunt down the drug manufacturers and their peddlers, until he realized “I was fighting my own government.”


He said corrupt Customs officials made things easy for drug importers and police generals protected the drug lords.

Duterte said with Dela Rosa destroying the apparatuses of the drug manufacturers, they have shifted to importing drugs and processing them in laboratories on board tugboats of a country he did not name.


He warned these drug importers and their peddlers will face his wrath. “Those who destroy my country, I will kill you, and those who destroy the young people in my country, I will kill you,” he said in his usual tough talk.

Duterte claimed that the latest statistics provided him showed about 1,000 youths are arrested each day for selling drugs. He added that many of those arrested from the middle class have been released from prison despite drug trafficking being a nonbailable offense.

He linked the drug problem to parents leaving their very young children to relatives or friends as they go abroad to work. He said the boys turn to drugs while the girls become prostitutes.

The President said it hurts him to think every night about Filipinas going to work in the Middle East who become prey to abuses by certain tribes that consider paid workers as slaves and their property. As a result, he said, these women are subjected to sexual abuse.

The worse part of it is when they decide to return home in 4-5 years, when they find that everything they had worked hard for is gone and their family dispersed.    

Duterte is flanked by Senate President Tito Sotto and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

 On the anti-insurgency front, Duterte said his troops have destroyed more than 15 apparatuses of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Maraming sundalo ang namatay sa mga armas na ipinasok ng mga rebelde sa Pilipinas.

That is my order to you, if you see them walking around, kindly shoot them dead, and I will be happy,” he said.

“Anyway, you’re only charged in the ICC together with me, so what is the problem of adding another one, another idiot Filipino who has caused great damage to our country?”

To the applause of retired generals who were behind the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, or NTF-ELCAC, Duterte praised their so-called barangay improvement projects to address the root cause of the insurgency.

Duterte called on Congress to pass laws creating scholarship programs for children of displaced overseas Filipino workers, as well as agribusiness and entrepreneurship programs for them; restoring the death penalty through lethal injection; reverting all TV frequencies to the government for use in educational and e-learning programs; requiring telecoms to improve internet connectivity and passing Bayanihan 2 Act and Covid-19 Adjustment Program to deal with the continuing challenges of the pandemic; and providing further incentives to the military such as free legal assistance and a pension fund.

Protesters braved the rains and pandemic restrictions
to speak out against human rights abuses during Duterte's term

Meanwhile, two separate contra speeches to Duterte’s SONA were delivered in the House of Representatives.

Both House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr and Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman slammed Duterte over his failure to provide a clear plan for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, thousands of people braved the rains to march from the University of the Philippines campus to Commonwealth Avenue ahead of Duterte’s final SONA.

Protesters from various groups led by Bayan and its affiliates gathered in UP Diliman at 9 am, and began marching about 3 hours later, while chanting anti-Duterte slogans. They were joined by Makabayan bloc lawmakers wearing their protest outfits.

The groups said their protest was a condemnation of Duterte’s tyranny and rights abuses during his five years in office.

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