Press Release
July 27, 2021

Dispatch from Crame No. 1,109:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on Duterte's Last SONA


Puro kuwento at drama. Pang-huling taon na, wala pa ring plano.

Duterte's last State of the Nation Address is heavy on dramatics, rhetorics, and bravado, but light on substance and concrete solutions.

When Duterte assumed office, he inherited a rising economy which was made possible by the policies and hard work of the late Pres. Noynoy Aquino and his administration. All he had to do was stay the course and his economic managers did just that. His mismanagement of the pandemic and his skewed priorities undid everything we worked on. He will leave office with our country in the worst economic condition since the Martial Law years.

He claimed credit for the enactment of the Free Tertiary Education Act and the Universal Healthcare Act, but failed to mention that it was the opposition stalwarts Sens. Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros who led the charge in passing these measures. His so-called accomplishments in infrastructure were also mostly the completion of projects which started during the previous administration.

He bragged about his foreign policy. He narrated how he bullied his customs officials to find a solution on how to return the garbage smuggled from Canada. He also boasted of how he demanded the return of the Balangiga bells and how he has refused several invitations to visit the United States. In contrast, in his five years in office, Duterte visited China five times. The most by any Philippine president.

Duterte, in his speech, admitted that he does not know how to enforce our arbitral award against China. He said that he does not believe in the outcome of the arbitration because China did not participate. Once again, he insisted that the only way to do so is through war against China, in spite of other ASEAN countries being able to insist on their claims without declaring war.

Duterte also revealed that in response to the pandemic, his first call was to Chinese President Xi Jinping to ask for vaccines. His continued use of China's talking points on the arbitral award not only shows the hypocrisy of his so-called independent foreign policy, but is tantamount to treason and betrayal of public trust by espousing a position against our national interests.

Duterte also admitted that his government's prosecutorial arm has failed to keep drug trading suspects off the streets in spite of the charges being non-bailable. He ended up rehashing his oft-repeated threat to kill druglords, which no druglord really treated seriously. He explained how illegal drugs entered our territory but has failed to present any solution on how to prevent it from happening. He failed because his War on Drugs is merely a ploy to consolidate power and not really to protect our countrymen against the evils of illegal drugs.

Duterte's words rang hollow as he offered excuse after excuse on why he is unable to stop the illegal drug trade, corruption in the government, the Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea, or manage our pandemic response thus far and in response to the new Delta strain. This after he guaranteed success in exchange for billions of pesos in funding from our Congress. The Congress gave him every centavo he asked for, extended the Martial Law in Marawi for as long as he wanted, and the Bayanihan laws needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In exchange, he only had failure to show for it.

If he truly wanted the best for our country, he should have resigned a long time ago. All the accomplishments of his government, if at all, were made in spite of him, not because of him. He should spare us the theatrics and let us move forward with a leader who will deliver results instead of excuses.

Duterte's last SONA reflects his tenure as President. He did not take the important parts seriously and spent his longer-than-it-should-be moment wasting our time with his nonsense. In the end, he had nothing else to say but to ask his audience if they already wanted to piss. That just about sums up Duterte's term of office. ###

(Access the handwritten version, here:

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