#SONA2017 | President Duterte’s 2nd State of the Nation Address – live updates and commentary
President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address today, July 24. The speech began at around 4:25 PM and lasted for two hours. As expected, he gave a strong defense of the achievements of his first year in office, including the War on Drugs and criminality, the fight against terrorism, as well as changes in the country’s foreign policy direction.
The Filipino Scribe posted live updates and quick commentaries on this space throughout the speech.
4:10 PM – Duterte has already arrived in the Batasan Complex. He is speaking briefly with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and other congressional leaders ahead of his speech.
4:17 PM: The President is now walking toward the Session Hall for his speech. The theme for this year’s SONA is “A Comfortable Life For All.”
4:25 PM: President Duterte is now delivering his SONA. He begins by reminiscing his days as a Davao congressman from 1998 to 2001. Former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are in attendance, while Benigno Aquino III is a no-show.
4:32 PM: As expected, Duterte began his SONA with a strong defense of his War on Drugs. “The fight will not spot! It will be unrelenting.” He added: “I believe then and still do now that progress will sputter if criminals are allowed to roam the streets freely.” He reiterated: “I am never timid and tentative.”
4:39 PM: Duterte also delivered a stinging rebuke against local and international critics of the War on Drugs: “To the critics, your efforts will be better spent to educate the people on the evil of illegal drugs,” he said. He added: “I value human life. I will not allow the ruin of the youth, disintegration of families by criminals.”
4:43 PM: Duterte then went on to discuss his frustration about the peace process with the Communist rebels. “Peace eludes us still. Sometimes, I’m tempted to conclude that peace may not be able to come during our lifetime,” he said, adding that he remains committed to achieving it until his last day as President, event beyond.
4:46 PM: The President then went on to give a strong defense of his martial law proclamation for the entire Mindanao, which last July 22 was extended by Congress until the end of the year.
“I declared Martial Law in Mindanao because I believe that is the fastest way to quell the rebellion at the least costs,” he explained.
4:50 PM: From his discussion about the War on Terrorism, Duterte then went on to discuss about agriculture. He called on the legislature to pass the National Land Use Act.
4:53 PM: “The protection of the environment must be made a priority. This policy is non-negotiatble,” Duterte said, echoing the advocacy of his former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. He also called on mining operators and contractors to “refrain from irresponsible destruction of watersheds and aquatic resources.”
Citing the documentaries created separately by Lopez and news anchor Ted Failon, Duterte bemoaned the extensive damage that minig operations have done to the country’s rivers, lakes, and farmlands, citing Mount Diwalwal as an example. “Yung mga magsasaka, wala nang makain!”
5:00 PM: While attacking big mining companies, Duterte launched a broadside against online news website Rappler.com. He claimed that it is American owned. The President’s potshot received an immediate pushback from Rappler CEO Maria Ressa who pointed out in a Twitter post that the organization is 100% Filipino owned.
President Duterte, you are wrong. @rapplerdotcom is 100% Filipino owned. Any leader should vet his information.
— Maria Ressa (@mariaressa) July 24, 2017
5:07 PM: According to GMA News, President Duterte has “completely abandoned” his prepared SONA. He now briefly talked about the importance of disaster preparedness.
— GMA News (@gmanews) July 24, 2017
5:10 PM: “The West Philippine Sea and federalism are two issues we have to tackle sooner than later,” he said. He also called on Congress to pass a law restoring death penalty to aid his War on Drugs.
5:15 PM: Duterte once more lashed out against the critics of the War on Drugs, saying that their continued emphasis on alleged human rights violations trivializes the damage that the spread of illegal drugs is doing to the country.
He also lambasted Senator Leila de Lima, one of his fiercest critics who are now in jail for her supposed involvement in the drug trade inside the National Bilibid Prison. “Is she a credible woman? Is she a moral person?” Duterte asked.
5:20 PM: Duterte also attacked his critics for warning that he can be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court for the extrajudicial deaths in the country once his term of office ends. “I am willing to go to jail for the rest of my life,” he said.
5:26 PM: “Talagang bully ako! For enemies of the state, I am really a bully!” Duterte declared. He then once more attacked the media for supposedly taking his statements out of context, particularly ABS-CBN.
5:31 PM: “I’m sorry I’ve exceeded my time,” Duterte said, an acknowledgement that his speech has now lasted for an hour and eight minutes.
5:36 PM: In a reversal from his offer of peace talks during last year’s SONA, Duterte has now declared that he “will not” talk with the Communist rebels anymore. He cited the ambush attacks launched by the New People’s Army against forces of the military and more recently, his Presidential Security Group for his about-face. “They keep on killing people, even civilians who don’t like to join their cause,” he said in Filipino.
5:38 PM: Pivoting to foreign policy, Duterte noted that there is now an “improved negotiating environment” with China as regards the West Philippine Sea issue. He also reiterated the long-standing policy of non-interference among member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
5:42 PM: Duterte recounted the infamous 1901 Balangiga Massacre in Eastern Samar which was committed by United States forces against Filipino freedom fighters. “Give us back the Balangiga bells!”
5:46 PM: Duterte then touted his administration’s efforts to make it easier for Filipinos to deal with the government, like requesting for clearances, among others. “Ayaw kong pinapabalik-balik niyo ang mga tao,” he said, mentioning that the hotline 8888 has been effective in getting feedback from the public about incompetent government officers.
5:51 PM: “I cannot fight corruption if you do not cooperate. Help me. Text me at 8888,” he said. “We are all employees of government! Kayo ang employer namin. We get money from your pockets to our pockets.”
5:54 PM: “I am not inclined to increase salaries and bonuses of officials in Government Owned and Controlled Corporations right now,” Duterte said.
5:57 PM: Duterte asks Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to end the temporary restraining order vs the purchase of certain types of family planning supplies as mandated by the Reproductive Health law. “The TRO is the bane that delays a lot of government projects,” he said.
“I am not for abortion, I’m not for birth control but I am for giving the Filipino family the power to decide,” the President said.
6:05 PM: The SONA has now been going on for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
6:10 PM: Duterte shared an anecdote about visiting a military hospital with antiquated facilities. “If this is how we treat our soldiers who are dying for us, a coup d’état is not surprising,” he said.
He challenged Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial to do her best to upgrade health institutions. “Change the procedure, or I will change you,” he said. He likewise called on the Congress to revise the procurement laws to make it easier for the government to make the necessary purchases.
6:15 PM: Duterte then addressed the need to improve the country’s infrastructure and transportation systems to alleviate the pestering traffic problem. He said that China will be helping finance these.
6:20 PM: He commended the House of Representatives for passing his government’s tax reform proposal. He said it is now up to the Senate to pass it.
6:24 PM: Duterte also announced a P25-billion tax settlement deal with Mighty Corporation, which he said is the biggest in history. He said this can be used to finance the government’s rebuilding effort in Marawi City.
6:27 PM: “Let me end by wishing everyone in the language of the old: ‘May God Keep us forever sheltered in the hollow of His hand,'” Duterte said as he wrapped up his second of the State of the Nation Address. It lasted for two hours.