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Where’s Duterte’s road map for his final year in office?

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives on Monday.​ AFP

Where’s Duterte’s road map for his final year in office?

Instead of dwelling on his achievements, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte could have cemented his legacy during his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) by discussing what the public truly wanted to hear – his road map for the final year of his administration, according to Senator Grace Poe.

He should have focused on what he still wanted to accomplish to safeguard the future of the country in terms of jobs, education and health care, said Poe.

Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed disappointment with Duterte’s inordinate focus on the war on illegal drugs and not even spending five minutes to talk about the solution to hunger.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, on the other hand, was pleased.

“Although the Covid pandemic hit us heavily, the foundation was laid for better lives for Filipinos – free college tuition, free health care for the poor, free irrigation for farmers, peace and order in Mindanao,” the chair of the Senate finance committee said.

“Although many are suffering still because of the pandemic, reforms in health care are contributing to a quicker recovery,” he said in Filipino.

Other lawmakers observed that Duterte’s three-hour speech was long on his accomplishments, but wanting in details on how the country could overcome the pandemic.

While House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez lauded the President’s efforts for peace, education, universal health care, and scrapping of onerous contracts, he said his speech lacked details on the overall vision of how the nation could overcome the pandemic in the long run.

“Maybe one thing which disappointed me is that there was no mention of the Bayanihan 3 or another round of assistance [to the poor]. That’s something that we have to keep pushing for,” said House deputy minority leader and Marikina Representative Stella Luz Quimbo.

Agusan del Norte Representative Lawrence Fortun said he was expecting a specific mention of environmental legislation and a clear account of the status of the vaccination programme.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman criticised Duterte for blaming the ongoing pandemic for the sluggish economy and accusing the contagion of “stealing everything”.

Environment groups on July 27 also slammed the apparent lack of clear policy and programmes on environmental protection and climate action, in separate statements.

Malacanang on July 27 said the president was determined to fulfil his remaining campaign promises and was confident that Congress would heed his request to pass important legislation to address the pandemic and other needs of Filipinos.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also denied rumours that the president was hospitalised after his Sona. He said Duterte felt well and had no health problems.

He told an online press briefing from Subic Bay Freeport that footage circulating online on Duterte stumbling as he entered the House session hall was the result of him stepping on the carpet placed on a slippery floor.

On why the president did not unveil any road map for pandemic recovery, Roque said the administration’s plan has been clear to the Filipinos all along.

“We already know the path to take to rise from the pandemic. Vaccination is important so that we can return to normal. And while there is the threat of the more transmissible and more lethal Delta variant, we are strengthening our health care capacity and ask everyone to be careful. Wear mask, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing, together with enhanced prevention, detection, isolation, treatment [protocols] . . . that really is our road map toward normalcy,” he explained.

Roque added that the president’s position has always been consistent on the pending Bayanihan 3 bill and that the government still has plenty of unused funds under the 2021 budget that could be incorporated in the 2022 proposed budget.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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