Press Release
July 24, 2019

Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Commentary on Duterte's Midterm SONA
24 July 2019

Duterte's fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) was, as expected, insufferable. And I was told, so was his singing after the speech.

On a cursory reading of the full text of Duterte's SONA (Failed to watch it on TV), here are my quick thoughts.

For the nth time, Duterte must be told that his being President alone does not stop corruption. An anti-corruption program needs a comprehensive institutionalized approach, supposedly with institutions that Duterte has undermined one by one, thereby demolishing the system of checks and balance and the rule of law. One does not achieve it by freeing and politically rehabilitating plunderers like the Arroyos and the Marcoses.

One does not fight corruption by whining, complaining, and crying out to the plunderers to stop their corruption. Definitely, it is not achieved by converting the Coco Levy fund into pork barrel for the legislators' consumption instead of returning it to the farmers from whose sweat it came.

Corruption does not stop by simply telling the plunderers to stop. Neither is it stopped by reinstating the death penalty. It is stopped by prosecuting and jailing thieves in government, instead of freeing them. Even if Duterte forces a hundred public officials to resign, if he does not prosecute and jail a single one, it will not stop corruption. Neither does sending 60 corrupt Customs officials to Congress.

Duterte cannot condemn corruption, while his actions actually encourage it.

In the same way, a comprehensive independent foreign policy is not achieved by being China's lapdog. One cannot defend the nation and its sovereignty by appeasing China and turning the country into its satellite State. No amount of extensive narration of how Duterte's dialogue with Xi Jinping convinced him to surrender and sue for peace - even before anything close to a war is declared - can justify his capitulation and treason.

Ano daw ang magagawa ni Duterte kung binantaan na siya ng China?

Well for one, he can start being a Filipino and side with his own countrymen, instead of raising the bogeyman that war is inevitable for any people who dare to stand up to the bullying of a bigger neighbor.

Kung wala kang magagawa sa pagbabanta ng China, bakit ka pa naging Pangulo?

Anyone can be a traitor. But it takes someone of honor and courage to lead this country against China's acts of aggression in the West Philippine Sea. Obviously, Duterte is not the one.

Nakakahiya ka Ginoong Duterte, sa harap ka pa ng Ambassador ng China nagkuwento kung papaano nabahag ang iyong buntot kay Xi Jinping.

Of course, a Duterte SONA will not be complete without a directive to Congress to reinstate the death penalty, whether exclusively for drug offenses or other capital crimes. The simplistic equation that death penalty will result in greater crime deterrence reflects an elitist, anti-poor and misdirected mindset. It also glosses over the fact that we have a deeply flawed justice system which is prone to errors, such as wrongful guilty verdicts.

Duterte is not content with the implementation of an EJK policy in his war against the poor. He wants executions to be institutionalized anew in order to legalize the murder of the impoverished and marginalized, while his plunderer friends and sycophants continue to accumulate riches from public funds without a single one being prosecuted, or those prosecuted by the past administration are eventually freed under his regime that has raised kleptocracy to new heights never seen before since the Marcos dictatorship.

The highest point of Duterte's rambling and meaningless SONA is when he said that he was already tired and wanted to resign, which, I was told, was met with awkward silence. This was followed by high praises of how Davao City is the best in everything, which, I can imagine, brought sparkle in his eyes.

Malinaw na hindi masaya si Duterte sa pamumuno ng Pilipinas, at tanging ang pag-uwi na lang sa Davao City ang nagpapaligaya sa kanya. Hindi niya nakayanan ang lawak ng responsibilidad ng Pangulo, kaya tanging pagbalik sa pagka-mayor na lang ang kanyang dinadaing.

Duterte asked the whole Philippines to emulate Davao by cutting down on their nightlife, beefing up their fire-fighting engines, and fast-tracking the processing of local government permits. It is the sales pitch of a President who cannot do anything for the whole country, and settles with bragging about his hometown, "the best city in the universe". Into his mid-term and 4th SONA, Duterte does not seem to realize that he is the President of the whole Philippines, not the Mayor of Davao City.

Duterte is saying: "Ang corrupt ng Pilipinas! Pero ang galing ng Davao City!" Ginoong Duterte, kung hindi mo napansin, tatlong taon ka nang Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Hindi ka na Mayor ng Davao.

Kung magrereklamo lang siya sa hirap ng trabaho niya sa paglutas sa mga problema ng isang buong bansa, sana tumakbo na lang siya uling Mayor ng Davao. Malinaw naman na pang-mayor lang ang kaya niya. Pagdating sa pamumuno sa isang bansa, mas nauuna pa siyang magreklamo sa mga problemang hindi niya mabigyan ng solusyon.

Pangulo ang kailangan ng bansa, hindi mayor.

Duterte whines and cries about the state of the nation like a bawling baby. A real President would know that he is the least of all people who has the right to complain.

Ginoong Duterte, walang pumilit sa iyo na tumakbo bilang Pangulo, kaya huwag kang magreklamo at umiyak na parang sanggol sa hirap ng iyong trabaho.

Either you stop whining and do your job, or resign and let others take over the serious business of running the country.

Like your SONA, a jumble of self-contradicting statements patched together to come up with a tortuous and grueling litany of excuses, it seems you would be crawling and gasping your way through the rest of your term. The whole country cannot be sacrificed as you merely intend to survive the next three years, without any hope and without a concrete vision of the future for the Filipinos.

You cannot end your term fighting, if there is no longer any fight left in you.

Mukhang pagod ka na Ginoong Duterte. Magpahinga ka na lang.

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