Press Release
July 28, 2021

Duterte should have resigned a long time ago - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has maintained that President Duterte should have resigned from his post a long time ago if he truly wanted the best for the country, saying that his five-year stay in the office showed his complete failure to address the pressing issues hounding the nation.

In a handwritten statement following Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26, De Lima said that the President's public address "is heavy on dramatics, rhetorics, and bravado, but light on substance and concrete solutions."

"Puro kuwento at drama. Pang-huling taon na, wala pa ring plano," De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1109.

De Lima pointed out that "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."

Adding that Duterte's last SONA reflects his tenure as President, De Lima noted that "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."

Duterte's final SONA started at around 4:13 p.m. and ended at around 6:58 p.m., with a total duration of two hours and 45 minutes, making him now the president who holds the longest SONA delivered in the post-EDSA era.

Notably, what the public expected to be Duterte's first agenda—the government's COVID-19 pandemic response—was not mentioned until two hours into his speech.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion cited several points that Duterte highlighted in his SONA, which she had found to be deplorable, including his foreign policy and unusual relationship with China, among others.

"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," she noted.

"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," she added.

De Lima stressed that Duterte's 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 the country's national interests.

Additionally, De Lima recalled, among others, how 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 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," she added.

Ultimately, De Lima said Duterte only had failure to show for throughout his entire rule despite the budget alloted to him by the Congress.

"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," she said.

In a separate statement, the Senator mused that, perhaps the most disturbing and the most telling sign that Duterte has been compromised and ought to have resigned a long time ago, are his weird references to "utang na loob", saying that he owes it to China after their donations of COVID vaccines.

"One thing is clear: whatever are his reasons for his failure to capitalize on the Philippine Government's UNCLOS arbitral award victory, or to demand respect for the Filipino fisherfolk being harassed by Chinese vessels, or his clear impotence to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party in the last five (5) years, it is NOT a debt of gratitude for donations of vaccines made in the last few months," said the Senator. "Which brings up the question: What debts does Duterte owe to China that he is using Filipino lives, Philippine interests and sovereignty to pay off? Whatever that debt is, he should have resigned a long time ago if his ability to fight for the country and our people is so compromised. He has forgotten that his first and only loyalty as the President is owed to no one else, much less a foreign power. There is a word for that in both the history and law books."

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