Like him or hate him, but President Rodrigo Duterte will likely be remembered for a lot of memorable things, including his fierce, bloody fight against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality — or perhaps his pivot to China and his heavy-handed pandemic response.
His unconventional style of communicating resonated with the masses, though his conventional comments earned criticisms here and abroad.
He kept his popularity five years into his term, unusual in a Philippine democracy where presidents usually lose their political approval in the latter part of their tenure.
His fame was even extended to his allies, as shown during the 2019 midterm elections where his trusted men won Senate seats.
A populist, Duterte approved several legislations aimed at strengthening social services, including the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law, the Universal Health Care Act, and the Free WiFi Law.
The President is also a reformist, having instituted tax reforms, invested on ambitious infrastructure projects, and eased requirements for businesses.
At 4 p.m. today, 26 July, the popular Duterte will deliver his final State of the Nation Address (SoNA) before some 400 select guests at the Batasang Pambansa.
His address will be broadcast live for millions of Filipinos who are hoping to hear his plans in his last year in office, particularly his pandemic recovery plan in which his successor in 2022 can work on.
How the Duterte administration will shepherd the country out of the pandemic is the biggest question that will hound his last year in power and is expected to take up the bulk of his speech on Monday.
Duterte’s speech will also be measured by how far he has come in fulfilling major promises from 2016, when he assumed the presidency.
Despite his achievements, unfulfilled pledges like eradicating the drug menace, corruption, and criminality in three to six months are expected to haunt his last year in office and even beyond — with the International Criminal Court set to decide on a formal investigation in the coming months.
His promise to initiate moves for the shift to Federalism from a unitary and presidential form of government is expected to be given a long, hard look as well as his vow to end contractualization, despite Congress being dominated by his allies.
Modest, memorable SoNA
The President’s final SoNA is seen to be the most memorable, since it will encapsulate his achievements in the last five years of his administration.
Duterte’s speech will be “modest, yet memorable and significant to the Filipino people” which reflects the President’s brand of leadership, said Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
According to the Presidential Communications Operations Office chief, they will be amplifying the accomplishments of the Duterte administration to the public in a more elaborate strategy so that more Filipinos will be aware of it. This is in accordance with the directive of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
He noted that the President had already made rounds of rehearsals for his 45 minutes to an hour speech, but the said amount of time is not sufficient to discuss all of the accomplishments that the administration achieved in the past five years.
During the President’s SoNA, health security protocols will be strictly enforced and the number of attendees inside the plenary of the Batasang Pambansa will be limited due to the persisting threat of Covid-19.
Guests are required to present their vaccination cards and negative test results taken at least two days before the event.
State forces have also been preparing for a multi-sectoral protest awaiting the chief executive on Monday along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.