What wasn't mentioned in Duterte's fifth SONA
Photo shows social distancing observed at the Batasang Pambansa as Duterte delivered his fifth SONA.
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What wasn't mentioned in Duterte's fifth SONA
(Philstar.com) - July 27, 2020 - 6:38pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:49 p.m.) — While analysts will fill the next few hours with their analyses on what President Rodrigo Duterte said in his fifth State of the Nation Address, what was not said in the speech also deserves mention.

Duterte in his speech which lasted well over an hour threatened telecoms Smart and Globe, hit back at Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, expressed apprehension in asserting the country's legal victory in the West Philippine Sea, and claimed that martial law in Mindanao ended without abuses by the police and the military.

The president also proposed reviving the death penalty by lethal injection.

The speech, though, left those who listened in for the government's plans, particularly on the COVID-19 pandemic, with more questions than answers.

In a press statement before the SONA, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the president "may outline concrete plans to strengthen the government’s response to the pandemic, which will steer the economy towards social economic recovery."

Through lengthy asides on illegal drugs and the need to reimpose death penalty by lethal injection, the chief executive did not spend much talking about what happens next in the wake of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Malacañang itself said the government's recovery plan would be "unveiled" at the chief executive's fifth SONA, and even the president's own communications team said in a statement that Duterte would talk about "proposed measures to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and to improve the delivery of the government’s assistance to the vulnerable sectors."

This was, for the most part, not the case. While he mentioned the need to build up the country's institutional capacity in fighting future pandemics and natural disasters, he did not mention a proposed stimulus package for recovering from the pandemic.

After a renewed bid for passage of past proposals, which included the Advanced Nursing Education Act and the National Land Use Act, the chief executive ended his speech with remarks against Drilon and the "oligarchy" that the president said the senator is protecting.

No mention of stimulus package 

While he was careful to ask Congress to pass the second iteration of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which would extend his now-expired sweeping special powers, Duterte skipped putting the P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE) bill on the agenda to boost the country's recovery from the pandemic nor the P1.5-trillion infrastructure spending bill. 

According to a news report, Duterte was also expected to announce the new chief of the National Economic and Development Authority, which is currently headed by acting chief Karl Chua.

The Philippines, which is under the world's longest quarantine, has a higher number of active cases than Indonesia, which leads Southeast Asia in tally cases with 97,286 patients.

As of this writing, the health department's tally stands at 82,040 cases recorded in the country since the outbreak first started in Wuhan.  — Franco Luna with a report by Prinz Magtulis

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