Duterte says final SONA not his swan song

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte says final SONA not his swan song
President Rodrigo Duterte is joined by Senate President Tito Sotto and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco at Congress during his last State of the Nation Address on July 26, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — It was his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) but President Rodrigo Dutetre does not regard the nearly three-hour speech as his swan song.

Duterte, who is considering running for vice president next year, said he would continue to push for measures that would help the pandemic-stricken economy recover.

"Today's my last SONA. This is by no means my swan song," the president said.  

"I shall never cease to implore Congress to pass vital and critical legislation, as well as to push the entire government to ensure nothing than the full recovery and revitalization of our country," he added.

While the Philippines is still grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte remains upbeat about the country's future.

"We need not despair. Desperation is a feeling alien to the resilient Filipino. A peaceful and prosperous Philippines is no longer a distant dream but one within our grasp if our future Filipinos would also do it," Duterte said.

"We have laid down the groundwork and are continuing to push for landmark reforms till the last day of my term. I have full confidence that the Filipino spirit will persevere and triumph together. And together, let us rise as a nation," he added.

Martial law needed to curb corruption?

Duterte cited the need ro fight what he described as "vested interests" and to ensure that gains would benefit the greater number of Filipinos "especially those who have the least in life." He said he has fired several officials linked to irregularities but admitted that corruption is already in the system.

"Corruption is endemic in government. You cannot stop corruption. Nobody can stop corruption unless we overturn the government completely.

"If I were the next president, if you think there is a need for you to change everybody in the system, then you declare martial law and fire everybody," he added.

The 1987 Constitution does not mention corruption as a basis for imposing martial law. Section 18 of the charter states that in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, the President may place the Philippines or parts of it under martial law for a period not exceeding 60 days.

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