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The speech was noticeable for the absence of the usual blame game – in stark contrast with immediately preceding SONAs.
President Rody Duterte began his 1 hour 40 minute speech – the longest maiden State of the Nation Address, by far – as follows :
“We can not move forward if we allow the past to pull us back……. Fingerpointing is not the way…. Vindictiveness is not in my system…..”
That said, the President proceeded to lay down his roadmap for the next six years. Many of the items in his agenda we heard before. But the President believed that they deserved to be repeated if only to emphasize their urgency.
Fifteen minutes into his speech, President Rody began showing some discomfort. Obviously, reading from a teleprompter was not his strong suit. He switched to his own style, ad libbing. Speaking straight from the heart, so to speak.
To me, that was when he started to really connect to his audience – not so much those in attendance in the session hall but to the millions outside who have much hope and faith that under this presidency “change is coming”.
The usual Duterte bashers branded the speech as “long and winding” and a “flop”. The more than 16 million who voted for him and even those who subsequently jumped ship to join the “super majority” gave it a “triple thumbs up”.
Some of his key messages:
God and State
“While I am a stickler for the principles of separation between Church and State, I believe quite strongly that there should never be a separation between God and State.”
“The fight against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption will be relentless and sustained.”
“We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered…. or put behind bars …. or below the ground if they so wish.”
“Do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the office of the President. Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay. “
“In this quest, I will put at stake, my honor, my life and the presidency itself.”
“Open military camps for drug rehab.”
“We will also intensify the war against human traffickers and illegal recruiters.”
“Addressing global warming shall be our top priority… but upon a fair and equitable equation. It must not stymie our industrialization.”
Roadmap to peace
“All of us want peace… not the peace of the dead…. but the peace of the living.”
“What I see are the widows and the orphans and I feel their pain and grief…..”
“If we can not as yet love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much.”
“We will strike a permanent peace before my term ends. That is my goal. That is my dream.”
West Philippine Sea
“Philippines-China talks must be based on international law.”
“We strongly affirm and respect the outcome of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as an important contribution to our ongoing efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution and management of our dispute.”
“Human rights must uphold human dignity. But human rights must not be used as a shield to destroy the country.”
(to be continued next week)
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(Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye)