SONA - So, ano na, unsa na?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The sixth and the last SONA of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is his last hurrah, his ultimate opportunity to make promises and to give a full account of his many past promises. His last SONA is like a valedictory address of a graduating student, a turn-over memo of a retiring employee, and perhaps a thesis defense of an aspiring masters or doctorate degree aspirant. What will he tell the people?

First of all, he should tell the nation about the latest advances and retreats relative to the nation's war against the COVID-19 pandemic. He should account for how many trillions has been borrowed from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and other foreign lenders and local sources of borrowed funds to combat the health crisis. He should tell us how many have died, how many survived and recovered, and how many have been vaccinated. He should define the scope, limits, and authority of the Inter-Agency Task Force or IATF relative to LGUs, how much flexibility can be granted to governors and mayors in fighting in the local terrains, considering the unique realities from island to island in the entire archipelago.

Second, the president should tell the nation the true state of the national economy. What is our unemployment rate and how many millions are jobless and underemployed? How many hundreds of thousands among our OFWs have been repatriated and how many have returned to their jobs abroad. He should tell us when the Malacañang-certified bill on the new Department of Overseas Filipinos is going to be approved. What are the emerging solutions to the many problems brought about by the health and economic crises. What are the other urgent bills that need to be approved before he says goodbye to the Palace.

Third, the president should tell the nation on the status of the war against drugs, how many drug lords have been arrested, charged, convicted, and sent away to Bilibid. How many drug suppliers, distributors, couriers and users have been killed, prosecuted, or are still roaming around wreaking havoc on families, communities and the whole nation. He should present the true state of the fight against crime and corruption. He should tell us how many big fishes among the purveyors of corruption have been prosecuted and convicted.

He should call a spade a spade and not embellish his report with platitudes and figures of speech.

Fourth, he should tell us the real score on what happened to the crusade for federal government, the peace talks and the war against rebellion and terrorism. What is the status of the implementation of the Anti-Terror Law, the abolition of contractualization. What happened to controversies in PhilHealth, in Customs, and in many other agencies and local government units. The president, for once, must be straightforward and tell the nation about the West Philippine Sea, and the Visiting Forces Agreement. What is really the status of our foreign relations and the administration's response to the Supreme Court decision on Rome's statute and the withdrawal from the ICC.

Fifth, what are the plans for his last eleven months in Malacañang. What are the priorities and the timetables? What are the failures that should not be repeated, and the successes that need to be replicated. The president remains popular but more and more of his former die-hard supporters are gradually abandoning ship. He will soon be a lame duck, and many of his friends are now changing their lines and their tunes. For once in his life and in his presidency, he has the opportunity to tell the truth and nothing but. Without any joke or figure of speech, of course.

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