FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second state of the nation address (SONA) on July 24, 2017.
On July 24, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA). We noted some of the action items and what the administration has accomplished so far.
“Unrelenting” war on drugs
In his second SONA, President Duterte said that his campaign against illegal drugs will continue and will be “unrelenting.”
“I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investments from pouring in. The fight will be unremitting as it will be unrelenting.”
Land Use Act
President Duterte appealed to the lawmakers for the passage of the Land Use Act which aims to institutionalize mechanisms to evaluate land use to ensure sustainable use of land.
“I am appealing to all our legislators to immediately pass the National Land Use Act or NALUA [applause] to ensure the rational and sustainable use of our land and our physical resources, given the competing needs of food security, housing, businesses and environmental conservation.”
An agency to focus on disaster response
President Duterte called on the legislators to craft a law that would establish a department for disaster resiliency and response.
“I am calling [on] both houses of Congress to expeditiously craft a law establishing a new authority or department that is responsive to the prevailing 21st century conditions and empowered to best deliver [an] enhanced disaster resiliency and quick disaster response.”
Passage of Death Penalty bill
The President called on Congress to pass the reimposition of death penalty on drug-related offenses and join him in a “fight against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality.”
“I therefore ask Congress to act on all pending legislations to reimpose the death penalty on heinous crimes — especially on the trafficking of illegal drugs.”
Stop irresponsible mining
President Duterte warned “all mining operations and contractors to refrain from the unbridled and irresponsible destruction of our watersheds, forests, and aquatic resources” and rehabilitate their areas that host their operations or else, face steeper taxes.
“I am holding all mining companies and its officials responsible for the full and quick clean-up, restoration [and] rehabilitation of all areas damaged by mining activities, and the extension of all necessary support to the communities that have suffered mining’s disastrous effects on their health, livelihood, and environment, among others.”
TRO on RH Law
The President asked the Supreme Court to lift its two-year temporary restraining order on contraceptive implants.
“The Supreme Court TRO that prevents the Department of Health from distributing subdermal implants, which will cause the wastage of P350 million worth of taxpayers’ money. I also note that since its issuance two years ago, this TRO has impaired the government’s ability to fully implement responsibly family planning and methods and the RH Law. It is time that we put an end to the practice of some parties of resorting technicalities in our laws, prevent the government from fulfilling its mandate.”
Implementation of the K-12 program
President Duterte said his administration will continue to support the implementation of the K to 12 program which aims to expand the basic education system in the country.
“In our bid to accelerate human capital development, we should ensure lifelong opportunities by enhancing quality of and access to education, training programs. We have sustained investments in higher education and committed to the full implementation of the K to 12 Basic Foundation Program.”
Return of a national heritage
The President told the U.S. government to return the iconic Balangiga bells which was seized by American soldiers as war booty in the 1901 in a defeat against the Filipino soldiers.
“That is why I say today; give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines.They are part of our national heritage.”
Passage of a new tax reform law
President Duterte asked the Senators to pass his administration’s first batch of tax reforms, after the Lower House passed its version of the bill.
“The fate of the tax reform is now in the hands of the Senate…Well really, I leave it up to you. We are all Filipinos. If you think that’s a waste, fine! If you think, it’s not good, it’s okay with me. I can survive. I call on the Senate so support my tax reform in full and to pass it without haste.” — Marje Pelayo
Duterte on urgent call for Code of Conduct: ‘My country will be the first to suffer’
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries during the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on November 14, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
SINGAPORE – President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his position that a code of conduct (COC) for South China Sea is urgent as China seemed to be unstoppable in its island and facility-building on the disputed territory.
The President said that being the newly assigned country coordinator for ASEAN-China Summit, he will try his best so that “everybody will know” that such reclamation activities require “radical changes in the laws governing international waters particularly the right of free passage or the right of innocent passage.”
The Chief Executive implied that China’s three-year bargain of negotiating for a COC might bring the friction among nations into something uncontrollable, that’s why a set of rules must be hammered as soon as possible.
“China is there. That’s a reality. America and everybody should realize that they are there. So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day, a bad miscalculation could thorn things, more fierce law. If anything could go wrong, it will go wrong,” the President noted during an interview before proceeding to the first Summit for the day on Thursday (November 15).
By friction, President Duterte means holding military activities that would only trigger a much larger problem.
He said it is pointless to use arms because “China is already in possession” of the disputed territory.
“It’s now in their hands, so why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he said.
President Duterte added that it is not his concern anymore if nations want to rage war against one another. However, he wants to make clear his interest in pushing for an urgent code of conduct.
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands and if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That is my only national interest there, nothing else,” the President concluded. – Marje Pelayo
Duterte in ‘top physical shape,’ gets back to business after ‘power nap’
SINGAPORE – Speculations circulated on the second day of the 33rd ASEAN Summit when the Philippine president was nowhere to be seen in some important meetings of the day.
President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t able to attend a number of meetings like the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit; the ASEAN-Korea Summit; the Working lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit “to catch some sleep,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President was able to attend the ASEAN-China Summit as the new country coordinator for the ASEAN-China dialogue relations in which he delivered the ASEAN Common Statement.
He likewise witnessed the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and the ASEAN on Economic Cooperation.
He also had a bilateral meeting with ASEAN host and Singapore Prime Minister Lee over some mutual cooperation beneficial to both countries’ people.
The President also attended important gatherings of the ASEAN members with dialogue partners including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview Thursday morning (November 15), the President seemed displeased about others making a big fuss about his absence.
He assured he is in good shape to attend all engagements for the day.
When asked if he had enough power nap yesterday, the President replied, “Still not good enough but enough to sustain the endurance for the last day. What’s wrong with my nap?”
According to Panelo, “the President is set to participate in the rest of the summits and a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.”
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and well-being,” Panelo said.
“The President’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo
China agrees to work on Code of Conduct for South China Sea ‘in three years’ time
ASEAN leaders take center stage for photo opportunity during the ASEAN-China Summit on November 14, 2018.
SINGAPORE – For the first time after more than two decades, China has finally spoken of a clear time frame on negotiating for a final code of conduct in the hotly-disputed territories in the South China Sea.
During his opening remarks at the ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (November 14), Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China acknowledges the differences among countries in the region but noted that the atmosphere has already improved through the years even amid the decade-long dispute as neighboring countries “have found the way to properly managed and diffuse differences.”
In fact, Prime Minister Li said, China has now agreed for a time frame to negotiate specifically on the establishment of a code of conduct in South China Sea.
“In the past years, overall peace in the South China Sea have been maintained. Now the situation is moving towards greater stability for this year. Thanks to the concerted efforts from all the parties, we have reached the single draft negotiating text and we have agreed to finish the first reading of the text in 2019,” he said.
“On that basis, China is ready to work with all the ASEAN countries toward concluding COC consultations in three-years time. It is our hope that we can set of a time frame so that in three- years time the COC will become a set of rules contributing to peace and stability in the South China Sea that will also be conducive to free trade and the further upgrading of our free trade area,” the Prime Minister added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, being the ASEAN-China dialogue relations coordinator, delivered the ASEAN’s commitment with China in working towards “the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).”
He added that ASEAN and China are now “in progress in the initial phase of the COC” while looking forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019.
“As co-chair of the COC negotiations, the Philippines will continue to work closely together with the ASEAN Member States and China for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Duterte said while both parties agree to maintain peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
In 1995, China took control of Mischief Reef in Spratlys Island that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (ECC).
The Philippines, in response, lodged a protest through the regional bloc.
The dispute with China reached the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which ruled in 2016 that China has no legal basis for claiming the territories in the South China Sea. – Marje Pelayo