SONA 2017: views from both sides

Written by Philippine News Agency

After President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in a joint session of Congress, legislators interviewed on the red carpet expressed opposing views on how they assess the President’s performance in the past year.

Former senator, now Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said, “I’m expecting that those for and those against are very clear about the problem and how they propose to solve it.

”The surveys show that a very big majority of the people—about 80 percent or more support the President, support the direction we’re taking. If there is even a single protester, it is the government’s duty to listen so we have people who are listening to them but they also have to really think whether they want peace or not," Cayetano said.

"We’re hoping that we can find this year the peace that has been so elusive to us. Because we cannot talk ice while we are still shooting at each other,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva believes that ending contractualization should be one of the priorities. “The move by DOLE in which 60,000 employees who have been regularized through an executive order is highly commendable but of course we need a law to institutionalize these programs and make sure that it will be felt by the public themselves."

For Representative Carlos Zarate, one of the issues is the handling of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

”Martial Law is not the solution to the almost five decades of fighting. What the government should do is address the socio-economic problems of the people. Federalism is focused only on the form of government. There is more reason to continue with the peace talks because there is a war. If there is no war, there is no reason to talk peace,” Zarate said.

Congressman Antonio Tinio considers the President’s actions as “bullying” when he referred to the subject of tax reforms which he said would not benefit the poor. “The poor will bear the burden of paying taxes which will go to infrastructure which will ultimately benefit only the investors and businessmen,” he said.

”Not only am I disappointed with the President’s speech, I am also concerned that the ills of the country are still attributed to illegal drugs. We know it’s not true. You cannot blame poverty, unemployment and the lack of social services, injustice and others on illegal drugs,” Tinio said.