Duterte’s last SONA a ‘superspreader’ event of lies, threats, misleading information – Makabayan
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday was a “superspreader” event – of lies, threats, empty and failed promises, inaccuracies, and misleading information, all of which were already fact-checked and disproven before, according to the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate blasted the President’s claim that the country’s economy was growing better until the COVID-19 pandemic altered normalcy, saying the Philippines was already on a downhill slide even before the health crisis happened.
“Sabi niya na napaka-brillant ng kanyang mga economic managers at maiiahon na sa kahirapan ang mamamayang Pilipino, pero that is a lie. In fact, ang katotohanan, since 2016 no’ng pumasok siya, ang ating gross domestic product ay nasa 7.1 percent. By 2017 naging 6.9 ito, sa sumunod na taon naging 6.3, and finally in 2019 naging 6.0 na lang,” he said.
“Padausdos, at dahil minaliit nito ang problema ng pandemya ng COVID hanggang ngayon, noong 2020 naranasan natin ang pinaka-masahol na pag-contract ng ating ekonomiya na hindi natin naranasan since World War 2, it’s a 9.5 (percent) contraction of our economy,” he added.
Zarate further accused Duterte of being two-faced, citing his Sona pronouncements about respecting the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that granted the Philippines exclusive rights to the West Philippines Sea as it invalidated China’s nine-dash line claims.
“Dito mo makikita talaga ‘yong Janus-face foreign policy of the Duterte administration, while in one hand kunyari ina-assert ‘yong historic arbitral ruling, pero ang kabilang mukha — hindi pa natuloy ‘yong kanyang laway — ay dinepensahan na ulit niya ang kanyang among Tsina,” the lawmaker asserted.
ACT party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, meanwhile, noted that there are still no clear plans on how the country would emerge from the pandemic, including how classes would be held in a new normal situation.
“Walang tungkol sa plano ng pandemya kaugnay ng economic crisis at iba pang krisis, walang plano sa ligtas na balik-eskwela, walang plano sa pagsugpo sa krisis ng ekonomiya. Para sa amin ay walang kwenta para sa mamamayan ang huling Sona ni Duterte,” Castro said.
“Ipinagmamalaki rin ang pagtaas ng pondo sa infra(structure) samantalang kulang na kulang ang pondo para sa ayuda, hindi pa rin nagsasagawa ng mass testing at pagpapalakas ng contact tracing, at pagtitiyak ng pagkalat ng COVID-19,” Elago, for her part, noted.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, on the other hand, disputed as “totally untrue” Duterte’s declaration that his administration made strides in addressing the root causes of armed conflict through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
According to her, the NTF-Elcac never addressed the roots of armed conflict in the country because it was never its intention in the first place.
“What it has accomplished is the squandering of billions of people’s money, rabid red-tagging of critics, and terrorizing of communities which are only demanding cash aid and social services,” she said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite likewise contested Duterte’s claim that it is hard to be a president because the pay is low, pointing out that the former Davao City mayor’s salary, bonus, and allowances as the current highest leader of the nation would be around P5.2 million a year or roughly P430,000. month.
In one part of his Sona, Duterte discouraged potential candidates from running because being president of the country is a low-paying job.
“Hindi ba niya alam na ang sweldo ngayon ng pangulo ayon sa Salary Standardization Law 5 […] ‘yong pinaka-mababang sweldo na inabot niya ay at least P395,858 a month, almost P400,000. That’s equivalent to P5.2 million a year,” Gaite stressed.
“Sinasabi niya na maliit na sweldo, eh ‘yong maliit na kawani sa pamahalaan, ang tinatanggap lamang ay 11 hanggang 13-mil lamang kada buwan, na kulang na kulang pa at hindi umaabot sa nakabubuhay na antas ng sweldo,” he added.
Zarate also pounced on Duterte’s latest tirades against broadcast giant ABS-CBN, which operation ceased after its franchise expired in May 2020. According to Duterte, he had no personal issues with ABS-CBN but the media company deserved to be shut down as it was not paying proper taxes, even claiming that ABS-CBN owns a 40-hectare property.
But the lawmaker noted that the Bureau of Internal Revenue had testified before Congress and repeatedly clarified that ABS-CBN had been paying its taxes religiously. He added that the lot area of ABS-CBN in Quezon City would not even exceed four hectares.
“Binanggit niya ulit ‘yong issue ng ABS-CBN, again repeated this long-debunked lie that ABS-CBN cheats on in tax responsibilities or payments. Malinaw naman no’ng nagkaroon ng pagdinig sa kamara, even the BIR ang nagsabi na walang tax dues o di nabayarang buwis ang ABS-CBN,” Zarate said.
“At kahit do’n sa kanyang sinabi na 40 hectares, ilang beses na rin tayong naka-balik dyan sa ABS-CBN, ni hindi nga umabot ng apat na hektarya ‘yan […] so tama ‘yong binanggit kanina, spreader ng misinformation, fake news, at lies ang huling Sona ni Pangulong Duterte,” he added.
Duterte delivered the longest Sona on Monday, at roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes, highlighting his administration’s achievements and pondering on what could have been if the COVID-19 pandemic did not occur.
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