The first SONA and major policy directions

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

It was one of the best State of the Nation Addresses we have ever attended and it stood out from the rest since the time of presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, GMA, and Benigno Aquino III. It has always been our privilege to be seated in the gallery because I happen to have many former law students in the secretariat of both the Senate and the House. I always have a reserved seat. The one yesterday was the most sincere, straightforward and was hitting both the mind and the heart, even the conscience too. It was a balanced speech, and not too long like that of Marcos nor too short like that of FVR.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has all the makings of a great president if he can see through the fulfillment of his strategic plans for the nation. While Marcos was very cerebral, very theoretical and at times even philosophical, Duterte was more on the practical, realistic and factual approach. President Cory was always spiritual, even religious and emotional, and FVR was more strategic and tactical like a true soldier and military man. Erap was always addressing the ''masa'' and talking of their day-to-day struggles and pains. GMA was very economic-focused, trade and commerce, and the like. PNoy was always hammering on corruptions.  President Duterte was able to have a little of everything, and even better.

We see the importance of a macroeconomic agenda, which is to continue the economic fundamentals of the past administration, especially the fiscal, monetary, and trade policies. President Duterte des not hesitate to copy the good things of the past and he has enough self-confidence to say that there is nothing wrong in opting for continuity. But his administration will push for massive tax reforms in order to make taxation more progressive rather than today's regressive policies. The acceleration of infrastructure spending will be given much impetus, not only to address the backlog in infrastructure but also to give employment to the most vulnerable sectors among our working class.

President Duterte is serious in his efforts to ease the entry of new investors and create new businesses. His government shall draw upon successful models like those of Davao, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Bacolod and Baguio so that more and more Filipinos will have jobs and improve their quality of life. Related to this is the national agenda for rural and value chain development to enhance productivity of agricultural and rural enterprises, and boost agri-tourism as the new linchpin for growth. And to ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in titling of lands, in land use planning and land management.

What I liked best, and perhaps the one that matters most, is the stress on human capital development, including health and education, matching skills with market demands, and promoting science and technology as well as creative arts, and put all of them together for a truly inclusive national development.

Also improving the social protection program and helping the poorest of the poor on jobs, health care, housing, and education. Then the strengthening of responsible parenthood and reproductive health, and helping couples and families make informed choices in life and livelihood. The best part of the speech was the caring for the people, the fight against drugs and crimes, and the pursuit of peace and reconciliation. Those, after all, are what matter most.


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