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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

“Drugs”, “Corruption”, “China”, and P*tang In* M*: A Look Back on President Duterte’s past SONAs

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Today marks the final State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte where he will deliver again in Batasang Pambansa at 4:00 p.m.

Before we, as a nation, watch the final address of the president, here are some of the highlights of Duterte’s speeches over the last five years.

First State of the Nation Address (July 25, 2016)

Clean government

“I assure you, this will be a clean government.” This statement is one of the most memorable lines in the President’s first State of the Nation Address since he went off-script to strengthen his stance against corruption. He even attested to his cabinet members’ honesty and competence but noted that he also only acts through secretaries of different agencies; therefore, he has no control of their management.

Duterte informed the public regarding the newly established 8888 hotline where anyone can report every acts of corruption and wrongdoings in the government.

West Philippine Sea ruling

President Duterte affirmed and respected the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China’s nine-dash line historical claim has no legal basis. He declared it as “an important contribution to the ongoing efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution and management of our disputes.”

Ceasefire with CPP-NPA

The president called on the CPP-NPA to end “decades of ambuscades and skirmishes.” He expressed that both the government and CPP-NPA are not going anywhere, and their fight continues to get “bloodier by the day.”

He announced a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA and asked them to respond immediately.

He added, “If we cannot, as yet, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much,” so it was said. I say the same to you today; we will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal. That is my dream.

Second State of the Nation Address (July 25, 2017)

Death penalty and war on drugs

President Duterte again continues his fight against drugs, one of his most campaign promises during the 2016 election. He reiterated that illegal drugs are the “root cause of so much evil and so much suffering that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investments from pouring in.” His challenging remarks showed that his administration does not intend to stop its war on illegal drugs.

To conclude his case for the government’s response to fight illegal drugs, he asked Congress to “reimpose death penalty on heinous crimes especially on the trafficking of illegal drugs.”

Tax reform

Since the president claimed in his speech that the “the poor and vulnerable are at the heart of my tax reform.”, he urged the Senate to pass the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act.

He jokingly called out Senator Angara for not clapping and told him, “Bantay ka lang sa eleksyon, tingnan mo.”

The said law is now passed by the Senate and signed by the president himself last December 17, 2017.

Third State of the Nation Address (July 23, 2018)

War on drugs

After almost three years since President Duterte vowed to end the illegal drug problem in the country in three to six months, the president asserted that the war on drugs campaign is far from over and it will be not be sidelined rather it will be relentless and chilling as the day it began.” He repeated the harmful effects of illegal drugs in the society, especially to the families and youth.

He slammed church leaders, human rights activists, critics and protesters of his war on drugs campaign. He told them, “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.”


Duterte expressed strong words regarding the blatant corruption that is happening in the government. According to him, “Corruption is like a leech that it bleeds the government of funds programmed for its infrastructure and other social development projects. It saps the morale or the morale of dedicated and honest government workers.”

He then thanked Congress for the passage of Republic Act 11032 or known as the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018 which he believed is a “significant fight against corruption.”

President Duterte reported that some of his friends and political supporters that he appointed in different agencies were forced to resign due to corruption. However, he did not drop names or mentioned the causes of their termination. He also added, “I value friendship, make no mistake about it. But it has its limits.”

Fourth State of the Nation Address (July 22, 2019)

Numerous pleads to Congress

The fourth SONA of the president is filled with requests to Congress in order to accomplish some of his administration’s agenda. He asks the congress to establish Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Water Resources and a Water Regulatory Commission. He also asked the governing body to postpone barangay and SK elections, and pass the National Land Use Act,  Salary Standardization Law, Trabaho Bill and others. Furthermore, he repeated his request to reinstate death penalty.

West Philippine Sea

The president wanted to avoid armed conflict and war to protect the territorial waters of the nation. He said that war is a “grief and misery multiplier, and can leave widows and orphans in its wake.”

He further pushed for a fishing deal with China instead of claiming Philippine sovereign rights to the sea, for he believed that it would lead to war with China.

Fifth State of the Nation Address (July 27, 2020)

Despite the ongoing spread of COVID-19, the Malacañang Palace has decided to let President Duterte speak at the Batasang Pambansa Complex. 50 persons were only allowed to attend physically, while some of the guests attended via video conference.

Government’s pandemic response

President Rodrigo Duterte started his speech by stating the harrowing effects that the COVID-19 virus brought to the nation. He also acknowledged the sacrifices of the COVID-19 frontliners and thanked them for their service to the country and the people.

The president recognized the hard work and efforts of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 and the LGUs for their pandemic response, and the Congress for the passage of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. He also reported that the government has allotted 205 billion pesos for the Social Amelioration Program to help low income families and the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program which gives financial assistance to over 650,000 affected individuals in the formal sector, 110,000 OFWs abroad, and almost 83,000 repatriated OFWs.

Even if the Malacañang Palace informed the public that Duterte will talk about the COVID response plan, many believed that the president failed to state his government’s comprehensive plan.

Attacks on Drilon and ABS-CBN

President Duterte included a tirade on the Lopez family and Philippine oligarchs, following the Congress voted to deny the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. In the 5 minutes of the president’s SONA, he criticized Senator Drilon for his oligarchy and anti-dynasty system statement. The president took offense, for he believed that Drilon was referring to his son and daughter and that the senator was defending the Lopez family.

He then proceeded to attack the oligarchs, specifically the Lopez family, whom he accused of “using their great wealth to influence policies, as well as their media company to battle with political figures.” He also stated that he was a “casualty” of the Lopezes during the 2016 election, which he won with a considerable margin of victory.


Drugs, West Philippine Sea, corruption and P*tangina mo

The last five years of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address are laden with expletive words and tirades against his political enemies and critiques.

The overall theme of his SONA revolves around his campaign against drugs and corruption. He has repeatedly asked Congress to allow death penalty for plunderers and drug traffickers and sometimes threaten to kill drug traffickers. Throughout the last SONAs, he had mentioned the word “drugs” 57 times, corrupt/corruption, 40 times, kill 16 times, and patay/patayin 9 times.

Despite tackling these problems, he failed to report his administration’s detailed plan on how to solve these issues, rather he focused on informing the public about the dangerous effects of the drugs and corruption in the society.

On the other hand, President Duterte has repeatedly verbalized his love affairs with China, mentioning “Xi Jin Ping” and “China” 4 and 26 times in all of his SONAs, respectively.

It is also notable that the president’s beliefs shifted through his time in office. Case in point, he has abandoned “federalism” which was supposed to be the legacy project of his administration. He also did not fulfill some of his promises during the election and previous addresses. Recently, when the president called the Philippines’ win in the Hague court “a piece of paper that he will throw” in a recorded speech, it is clear that he now contradicts his past statements during the first SONA. Furthermore, he frequently discussed the risk of pushing to fight for the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, which is in stark contrast to his previous jet ski statement.

If there is anything we learned from President Duterte’s previous SONAs, it is how he used his words and gibberish to obfuscate, threaten and inflict violence to his perceived political enemies, and ultimately gaslight the Filipino people.

And it works.

President Duterte will step down as the most popular President in recent Philippine history, much to the chagrin of his political enemies.

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