Where’s Duterte’s road map for his final year in office? – lawmakers
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of dwelling on his achievements, President Rodrigo Duterte could have cemented his legacy during his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) by discussing what the public truly wanted to hear: his road map for the final year of his administration, according to Sen. Grace Poe.
He should have focused on what he still wanted to accomplish to safeguard the future of the country in terms of jobs, education, and health care, said Poe.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan expressed disappointment with Duterte’s inordinate focus on the war on illegal drugs and not even spending five minutes to talk about the solution to hunger.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, on the other hand, was pleased.
“Although the COVID pandemic hit us heavily, the foundation was laid for better lives for Filipinos — free college tuition, free health care for the poor, free irrigation for farmers, peace and order in Mindanao,” the chair of the Senate finance committee said.
“Although many are suffering still because of the pandemic, reforms in health care are contributing to a quicker recovery,” he said in Filipino.
Wanting in details
Other lawmakers observed that Duterte’s three-hour speech was long on his accomplishments, but wanting in details on how the country could overcome the pandemic.
While House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez lauded the President’s efforts for peace, education, universal health care, and scrapping of onerous contracts, he said his speech lacked details on the overall vision of how the nation could overcome the pandemic in the long run.
“Maybe one thing which disappointed me is that there was no mention of the Bayanihan 3 or another round of assistance (to the poor). That’s something that we have to keep pushing for,” said House deputy minority leader and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said he was expecting a specific mention of environmental legislation and a clear account of the status of our vaccination program.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman criticized Duterte for blaming the ongoing pandemic for the sluggish economy and accusing the contagion of “stealing everything.”
Environment groups on Tuesday also slammed the apparent lack of clear policy and programs on environmental protection and climate action. In separate statements, the groups also criticized Duterte’s defense of the laying of crushed dolomite rocks along Roxas Boulevard fronting Manila Bay, calling it “disinformation at its finest.”
Malacañang on Tuesday said the president was determined to fulfill his remaining campaign promises and was confident that Congress would heed his request to pass important legislation to address the pandemic and other needs of Filipinos.
“Both chambers [of Congress] have come out with the priority bills and included there are most of the president’s own priority bills. So we are confident that they will be passed — before everyone starts campaigning — because of the strong support and cooperation of our Congress,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing from Subic Bay Freeport.
Roque also denied rumors that the President was hospitalized after his Sona. He said Duterte felt well and had no health problems.
Roque said the president stayed around at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office in Batasan complex to meet and chat with congressmen who were his friends. He said the president left the complex around 8:30 p.m.
He also said the footage circulating online on Duterte stumbling as he entered the House session hall was the result of him stepping on the carpet placed on a slippery floor.
On why the president did not unveil any road map for pandemic recovery, Roque said the administration’s plan has been clear to the Filipinos all along.
“We already know the path to take to rise from the pandemic. Vaccination is important so that we can return to normal. And while there is the threat of the more transmissible and more lethal Delta variant, we are strengthening our health care capacity and ask everyone to be careful. Wear mask, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing, together with enhanced prevention, detection, isolation, treatment [protocols]… that really is our road map toward normalcy,” he explained.
Roque added that the president’s position has always been consistent on the pending Bayanihan 3 bill and that the government still has plenty of unused funds under the 2021 budget that could be incorporated in the 2022 proposed budget.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING AND JHESSET O. ENANO
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