What should we expect to hear in the SONA? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 July 2017 13:37

By Remedios F. Marmoleño


President Duterte is scheduled to give his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24. If this will be anything like the SONAs of previous presidents then we can expect this to be a “pat on my shoulder” kind of address. I can’t think of anyone who  is given the same opportunity to do otherwise.

On the other hand I think it is a missed opportunity if the president- any president- does not use the occasion to connect with his national constituency and inspire us to aspire for the greater good of the country.

For me personally I am hoping that the president will touch on the topic of  how we can truly exercise justice in the Philippines. Justice is the foundation of peace; it is the foundation of  development. We will not get anywhere very far if justice is simply set aside in pursuit of other agenda deemed more important than justice.

This administration’s war on illegal drugs is a good case in point. Except for those actually engaged in illegal drugs in different capacities as pusher, user, etc. I can safely say that everyone else is against drugs; we are in agreement that there is a need to eliminate the drug menace from our society. Where we differ is on the matter of how this menace can be, and should be, eliminated.

One distinctive feature of how this administration  is carrying out its efforts against the drug menace is the number of people killed in the process. The number so far is appalling. The victims -  believed to be users and/or pushers and/or drug lords-  are claimed to have resisted arrest and shot at the arresting authorities and were thus killed.  Other killings are claimed  to have been the work of vigilantes.

When the public or the media or the CHR question the claims those who question are generally looked at as simply anti-administration. It is not quite as simple as that.  Victims of legitimate police operations are still entitled to have their deaths looked into and justified according to law. If the CHR gets involved it should not be considered as meddling; it is their job, after all,  to do so.

And those killings attributed to vigilantes are crimes. Do the authorities look into these crimes? How many have been solved and the killers properly charged for the crime? I try to keep up with the news through the different media outlets but I don’t remember that there has been any report on this matter.

The president has more than once mentioned that he will never allow  that the Philippines  becomes a narco state. Are we to suppose that the work of the vigilantes, if they really are,  is encouraged ?

Let us wait for the SONA to hear where the president stands on this.