Outside of Sona, the promises made by Bongbong Marcos | Inquirer News

Outside of Sona, the promises made by Bongbong Marcos

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 11:36 AM July 28, 2022
Outside of Sona, the promises made by Bongbong Marcos

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his first State of the Nation Address, July 25, 2022. PHOTO PBBM FACEBOOK PAGE

MANILA, Philippines—President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivered his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday (July 25), but missing from his first key speech as president were promises made during the campaign and shortly after winning the presidential race.

Marcos, who won with over 31 million votes last May 9, addressed Filipinos for one hour and 14 minutes, highlighting a 19-point legislative agenda, including a “rightsizing program,” which he said will make certain the efficient use of resources.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ: FULL TEXT: President Marcos’ 1st Sona

Inside the Batasang Pambansa, home of the House of Representatives where 1,360 individuals were expected to watch his first Sona, Marcos gave a glimpse of his first few days as chief executive and his plans for the next six years. “The state of the nation is sound,” he said.

READ: Marcos’ first Sona: ‘The state of the nation is sound’

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Marcos’ Sona was clear and comprehensive, stressing that it was not a simple address as “the President delivered a plan for a better nation.”

FEATURED STORIES

Zubiri told ANC that Marcos’ speech was “amazing”—one that tackled many things: “He touched on so many topics that were so vital for the development of our country. It was quite refreshing to hear that. So I was very happy and very pleased.”

This, as the president said that “we have, and we will continue to find solutions [to problems],” saying that he already instructed the National Economic Development Authority to work on the 2023 to 2028 Philippine Development Plan.

However, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said there were things that Marcos left out in his first Sona, like the end to contractualization, fight against corruption, and protection of human rights.

INQUIRER.net sent this message to Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles to get the Palace reaction to Pimentel’s statement:

“Ma’am I’d like to ask for Malacañang’s comment on Sen. Koko Pimentel’s statement that there were some issues and promises that President Marcos Jr. failed to address/tackle in his first Sona. Thank you so much.”

The reply was brief: “No comment.”

ADVERTISEMENT

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

INQUIRER.net talked to political science experts at the University of the Philippines Diliman, who said that while a Sona cannot go through everything, it gives a glimpse of the government’s priorities.

RELATED STORY: Bongbong Marcos’ 1st Sona: Inheriting Duterte problems, plotting solutions

“In a way, the Sona combines a president’s wish list for the legislature (through a proposed legislative agenda) as well as an assurance to the Filipino people that he will fulfill his campaign promises,” said Professor Maria Ela Atienza.

Atienza said the first Sona of a president lays out the priorities and agenda of his or her administration not only for the next year, but for the entirety of his or her presidency.

Assistant Professor Enrico Gloria stressed that the “hits and misses” in Marcos’ address “could be an indication that there are more pressing issues that he would like to emphasize as priorities for his first year in office.”

He said there are just so many things that a chief executive can reflect in his Sona, so the public ought to press accountability based on the President’s broader commitment, which he has expressed.

For Assistant Professor Sol Iglesias, the silence on a campaign promise or issue could mean a lot of things—it is just not a priority, it has been dropped altogether, or the government cannot say anything definite now.

Gloria, however, stressed that Filipinos should continue seeking accountability for the promises of Marcos: “The public must continue to be mindful of the promises, included or excluded in the Sona, in demanding accountability from the new government.”

INQUIRER.net listed down some of the promises that Marcos made since last year—promises that he missed in his first Sona as the 17th chief executive of the Philippines.

  • War vs. illegal drugs

It was on Oct. 7, 2021 when he said he will continue then President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. However, he stressed that he will focus on prevention, education on the ill-effects of drugs, and improvement of rehabilitation centers.

“Teach children that doing drugs is bad, the health implications. Improve rehab centers, not all are functioning properly. Enforcement, we have seen, can only take you so far,” Marcos had told CNN Philippines.

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said that as of April 30, 6,248 drug suspects had been killed in the government’s war—deaths, which rights groups said, could be as high as 30,000.

Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg said Marcos committed to continue the war on drugs “within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights.”

Thunborg said on June 10 that Marcos will “focus on rehabilitation and socio-economic development,” something that is “very much appreciated on my government’s side as well.”

From 2016 to April 2022, PDEA said the government has seized P89.29 billion worth of drugs—shabu (8,177.79 kilos), marijuana (4,226.08 kilos), ecstasy (21.93 kilos), cocaine (534.20 kilos), and dangerous drugs (3,483.67 kilos).

Last Friday (July 22), Human Rights Watch said Marcos “needs to make a clean break by showing he is serious about accountability for past human rights violations as well as preventing abuses in the future.”

Iglesias said Duterte’s signature war on drugs is unlikely to be a priority for the Marcos administration even if the new president will most certainly need to address drug trafficking.

“And good riddance—violence and possible crimes against humanity should not be emulated. Marcos also said on the campaign trail that he would not cooperate with the International Criminal Court yet his government can still improve greatly on the previous administration’s inability to conduct meaningful domestic investigation and prosecution,” she said.

“What is concerning of course is a deafening silence on human rights protection, broadly speaking.”

  • Peace talks with Reds

As Marcos told SMNI on Feb. 15 that he will continue the programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), he stressed the need to “continue the peace talks.”

“As the problem of armed struggle persists, we should continue the peace talks until we achieve a real peace agreement,” said Marcos, who, as president, chairs the NTF-Elcac.

It was in 2019 when Duterte ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represented the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in peace negotiations with the government.

RELATED STORY: Breaking the promise of peace, Duterte turns from rebel ‘friend’ to worst foe

CPP founder Joma Sison said last month that the NDFP was always open to negotiations with the government whoever is president, stressing that if the Marcos administration was willing to talk, “why not?”

Last May former presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza advised Marcos to resume peace talks with the NDFP to reach a political settlement to their five-decade armed struggle.

This, as Karapatan said that Duterte’s insurgency war, which was tainted with “dangerous” red-tagging, already saw 442 victims of extrajudicial killings, 2,957 victims of illegal arrest without detention, and 481,918 victims of forced evacuation.

National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said on July 15 that the president is the one to decide on whether the government will continue the negotiations. As of June 2022, there are 802 political prisoners—591 were arrested in Duterte’s six-year presidency.

However, NDFP peace panel Interim Chairperson Julie de Lima recently stressed that there is yet no basis for the resumption of talks.

For Iglesias, “indeed, the omission of some promises are more glaring than others.”

“The peace process is significant for any administration. The NDFP recently stated that there is currently no basis for the resumption of peace talks and they criticized the idea of a localized process. Both sides need to come together but it is strange that Marcos left this unaddressed in his speech,” she said.

  • End ‘endo’

Last Feb. 24, Marcos expressed interest in making into a “priority bill” the proposed Security of Tenure Act, saying that “we need to fix this because our countrymen are forced to work due to low [wages] and poor labor conditions in the country.”

This, as Duterte vetoed in 2019 a bill against “endo,” one of his campaign promises when he ran for president in 2016, because the bill, he said, broadened the scope of labor-only contracting.

“I will have to put the layout in detail because the issue has become so involved. There is a lot to fix, structurally there is a lot to fix. Agencies should be streamlined. Because there are many (offices), our workers are confused about who to seek,” Duterte had said in explaining his veto.

Marcos told radio station dzRH on Jan. 25 that he would talk to owners of big corporations, some of whom, he said, are his “friends,” to address the problem of contractualization.

Last May 2, he stressed that prioritizing workers’ protection is the way to go, saying that it is a vehicle to address issues like health and safety, wages, and the protections of workers.

Kilusang Mayo Uno challenged Marcos on July 20 to end “endo,” stressing that contractualization has kept wages for many workers low, making it difficult for them to make ends meet, especially now that the costs of commodities are rising.

  • Teachers’ salary

It was last March 19 when Marcos said that should he win the election, he will institute programs to improve the life of teachers and inspire them to provide the highest quality of education to students.

“We need to provide our teachers with all the necessary support because they are the ones molding our young students to become better, responsible and productive citizens who in turn would become the country’s future leaders,” he said.

When Marcos was still senator (2010 to 2016), he filed two bills—SB 3106 and 109—to seek higher pay for public school teachers, but these got stalled in Congress.

While Marcos said in his Sona that the government is working to make schools safe for students and teachers, he only discussed a proposal to institute a program of refresher courses for teachers.

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

The Salary Standardization Law states that a Teacher I receives P25,439 a month, Teacher II (P27,608), Teacher III (P29,798), Master Teacher I (P45,203), Master Teacher II (P49,835), Master Teacher III (P55,799), Master Teacher IV (P62,449).

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers asked Marcos last June 8 to increase teachers’ pay: “The low salaries of teachers are not commensurate to their needs and that of their families and to their indispensable role in delivering education to millions of youth.”

Atienza said Marcos left out the rights of teachers and health workers, though he had an extensive discussion on improving the public health system and public schools.

  • Fishermen’s cry

With a promise to improve the lives of fishermen, Marcos told SMNI last March 28 that he will work on the modernization of fishing vessels and provide fishermen with the needed equipment to ensure their safety and higher catch at sea.

It was last January when the government allowed the importation of 60,000 metric tons (MT) of fish products to address the shortage in local supply which the Department of Agriculture (DA) blamed on Typhoon Odette (Rai) and the closed fishing season.

READ: Salt on open wound: More fish imports for PH as China blocks Filipino fishers

However, the group Pambansang Lakas ng Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said last month that the shortage was the byproduct of two things—government’s poor response to a continuing spike in oil prices and China’s blockade of traditional fishing grounds in West Philippine Sea (WPS), which are part of Philippine exclusive economic zone.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, fisheries production in the first quarter of 2022 declined by 0.2 percent—from 973,620 MT in the same period last year to 971,501 MT this year—largely because of the lower output in commercial and marine municipal fisheries.

Pamalakaya said the presence of Chinese vessels in WPS likewise contributed to the decline in fisheries production, saying that the income of fishermen fell by 70 percent because of China’s encroachment—from P1,000 to P300 every fishing trip.

This was the reason that Pamalakaya stressed that while Marcos promised in his Sona that he will not let go “even one square inch of [our] territory,” there was “no concrete assurance.”

“There was also no mention of supporting Filipino fisherfolk displaced and heavily affected by Chinese presence in our traditional fishing grounds. There are around 600, 000 Filipino fishers from Zambales and Southern Tagalog provinces affected by Chinese incursion,” it said.

In his Sona, Marcos only said that “loans and financial assistance to farmers and fishermen will be an institution and policy of my administration,” saying that “we need to start now.”

  • ‘P20 rice’

It was last April 18 when Marcos promised that should he win the election, he will work to bring down the price of rice to as low as P20 to P30 a kilo by recommending a price cap.

READ: The wait-and-see period for Bongbong Marcos’ ‘P20 rice’ promise

To achieve this goal, Marcos said there must be a regular and thorough inventory of rice harvests in the country through the DA and the National Food Authority (NFA)—which will both procure rice harvests from local farmers at higher and more competitive prices.

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

However, former National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) director-general Cielito Habito explained that lowering the price of rice to P20 would imply a price of P18.50 to as low as P8.50 per kilo of regular milled rice.

“His promised P20 rice price thus implies a farm gate palay price of about P10 per kilo — well below the P12 to P15 farmers cite as their production cost. No wonder farmers’ groups aren’t jumping for joy over his P20 promise,” he said.

Last May, the DA declared its plan of “mobilizing” rice retailers to sell NFA rice for P27 to P29 a kilo, saying that should the government extend its stocks, rice bought by the NFA could be rolled over. Currently, the lowest price of regular milled rice is P38 a kilo.

In his Sona, Marcos said he will find a way to make Filipinos get relief from escalating costs of basic commodities, like the revival of Kadiwa Centers, a government program when his father was president.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the Kadiwa program was meant to provide basic commodities, procured by the government in bulk, at affordable prices. It was backed by four government agencies all headed by Imelda Marcos.

“Costing the government P18 million within two years, Kadiwa was characterized by hoarding, raids, and by 1983, empty rice shelves. By May to November 1984, rice prices even surged by 25.9% to P5.35/kilo, eating up a third of the then P16 daily minimum wage,” KMP said.

For Atienza, while Marcos had an extensive discussion on agriculture, it focused on farming improvements and agrarian reform.

Iglesias, meanwhile, said “silence on previous pronouncements about bringing down the price of rice to P20 to P30 per kilo might mean they’ve thought better of it after criticism from experts, including the former DA secretary.”

  • Fight against corruption

As he promised a more efficient revenue collection, Marcos stressed on May 27: “There should not be any place for corruption […] I’m now the President. If there will still be corruption, we will go after you.”

Deputy Ombudsman Cyril Ramos said in 2019 that the government had lost an estimated P670 billion in 2017 and P752 billion in 2018 because of corruption, explaining that 20 percent of yearly government resources were lost to corruption.

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

The Philippines, in the last five years, had an average rating of 34 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. The scale indicates 100 as “very clean” and zero as “highly corrupt.”

  • 2017: 34 pts. (111th out of 180)
  • 2018: 36 pts. (99th out of 180)
  • 2019: 34 pts. (113th out of 180)
  • 2020: 34 pts. (115th out of 180)
  • 2021: 33 pts. (117th out of 180)

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she hoped that Marcos would discuss in detail his plans to fight corruption.

READ: Hontiveros notes no anti-corruption measures tackled in Sona

“One concern, going forward, is that, because these are big-ticket programs, these have the potential to be subject to corruption that should be monitored. [I was hoping he would talk] about anti-corruption efforts given the history of plunder and graft and corruption in our country in the past decades,” she said.

  • Protection of people’s rights

Last June 10, Marcos promised UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzales that his administration will protect human rights and that there will be a “high level of accountability” for human rights violations.

RELATED STORY: ‘I don’t care about human rights’: Duterte and the failure to see human rights’ role in progress

“He even shared that he is conducting a number of consultations to ensure the best way of supporting the human rights agenda. So this was quite encouraging,” Gonzales said.

GRAPHIC Ed Lustan

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commended Marcos’ commitment then: “The CHR welcomes this statement from president-elect Marcos Jr. and looks forward to the support of the incoming administration for initiatives advancing the human rights cause in the country, including the UN Joint Program on Human Rights.”

“With the said expression of support, the CHR hopes that respect and protection of human rights will be part of the main agenda of governance of the incoming administration, thereby uplifting the lives of all Filipinos,” it said.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said Marcos’ first Sona “skirts civil and political rights issues such as extrajudicial killings, political prisoners, press freedom, disinformation, peace talks, death penalty, failed domestic accountability mechanisms, justice for victims of HRVs under Duterte and International Criminal Court’s investigation.”

“When there’s eerie silence on these issues, we surmise that there are no significant shifts in the draconian policies of the previous Duterte administration. The impact is a more threatening environment that encourages further closing of democratic spaces,” she said.

  • Lack of sincerity?

Gloria said the “hits and misses” in Marcos’ first Sona in relation to the promises he made prior to the speech could be indicative of several things as well.

“First, it’s proof that his campaign was largely based on loose promises which says a lot about the sincerity of his bid for president, his competence as chief executive, his experience as a public servant, and his overall understanding about the real state of the nation,” he said.

“Second, his Sona is also reflective of his current predicament to advance programs and plans that are exclusively his without publicly contradicting the legacies of his previous administration.”

He stressed that this could also mean that “he and Duterte are not one and the same as many of us would think.” Lastly, the hits and misses could also be a product of the wisdom and precaution of his economic team and cabinet, he said.

“Consistent with the highly technical speech that was delivered, there is a sense that Marcos tends to defer to technocrats and experts in laying out the blueprint of his administration,” Gloria said.

  • Vigilance needed

Gloria stressed that for public perception, “the sentiment right now is mixed at best.”

“There are those who are quite receptive of the specific plans and legislations highlighted in the Sona, and those who have taken note of these hits and misses. But in general, public perception seems to be in a wait and see disposition at this point,” he said.

“This is where the public’s vigilance and the high civic engagement that we observed in the campaign period comes in […] And this becomes more crucial if we think about the super thin opposition in Congress and the current climate of press freedom where ultimately, we find ourselves in a depressed check-and-balance system,” he said.

For Atienza, “we will see how [Marcos’ silence on some of his promises] will affect trust ratings and confidence levels in him in the next few months. Duterte remained very popular until the end of his term even if he was not able to fulfill all his promises and stated objectives.”

“But one thing we must always remember, especially for citizens, is to continuously demand not only for presidents to fulfill their promises they articulated but to also focus on issues that are important for us Filipinos, even if the president and his team did not include them in his campaign promises, statements and policy speeches,” she said.

TSB

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Agriculture, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, contractualization, Drug war, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Human rights, INQFocus, Juan Miguel Zubiri, left-out promises, Peace Talks, Risa Hontiveros, Rodrigo Duterte, salary, State of the Nation Address
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.