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Duterte’s SONA focuses on peace, war against crime & illegal drugs, moving forward

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his inaugural speech. ( Malacanang Photo)
President Rodrigo Duterte 
( Malacanang Photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte means business when it comes to protecting the country and its people.

During his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte said that his administration will strengthen the country’s laws against terrorism.

As Commander-in-Chief, Duterte said that he will use military force to fight rogue elements, particularly the Abu Sayyaf Group.

International relations:

Duterte said that he will forge stronger international relations with Indonesia and Malaysia in an effort to stop the rampant kidnappings in the waters connecting the Philippines to these two countries.

On the issue of the West Philippine Sea, President Duterte said that all parties should respect the Permanent Court of Arbitration decision, which should serve as the basis for peacefully resolving the maritime dispute.

“All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead…but of the living,” he said.

Extending passport validation:

Duterte said that extending the validity of Philippine passports from five years to 10 years could eliminate the long queues in branches of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Duterte’s take on the Bangsamoro Basic Law:

Duterte urged Congress to give the people of Mindanao “what they want,” referring to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

He added that legislators could vote to pass a version of the BBL without provisions that are constitutionally contentious.

Duterte explained that the right time to thresh out all controversial provisions of the BBL is when the country shifts to a federal system of government.

Traffic, traffic, traffic:

Duterte said that if the public wants to immediately put an end to the worsening traffic in the Metro and key cities like Cebu, they should allow Congress to give him emergency powers.

However, if not granted emergency powers, the President said that he is ready to face the ire of the commuting public.

The President said that he understands how the public could be wary that emergency powers may be used for corruption and personal political gain.

Duterte reiterated earlier assurances that his government will be clean.

“Human Rights must work to uplift human dignity”

“Human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country — your country and my country,” Duterte said.

The Duterte administration has been criticized for the recent spate of killings of alleged drug pushers and users.  The President said that these deaths could be avoided by following the law, “Do not do drugs.”

Human Rights advocates, especially the Commission on Human Rights, have expressed concern over extrajudicial killings and vigilantism that ignore an individual’s right to due process enshrined in the constitution.

Duterte said that his administration is willing to double or triple its efforts, and will not stop until all drug lords, financiers, and suppliers have surrendered.

He added that one of his priorities is to put up rehabilitation centers, which could be located in military camps. Military reserve forces could be enlisted to run an information campaign educating the public about the ills and consequences of being involved in illegal drugs.

No more “blame game”

Early on in his speech, the President said that blaming the current problems of the country on previous administrations is a waste of time that will impede the nation’s effort to move forward.

Duterte said that instead of bringing back the past, he would rather learn from previous administrations in order to implement more informed policies.

Here is President Rodrigo Duterte’s complete State of the Nation Address:

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