Dispatch from Crame No. 347: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on Duterte’s 3rd SONA


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Duterte’s third SONA was characterized by a nagging dissonance between the story he was telling and the reality as Filipinos saw it in the past two years.

He talked about human life being more important than human rights. But 23,000 human beings are dead because of his drug war. Those are human lives.

He has not ended the drug menace in six months as he promised to. But he promises to be more “relentless and chilling,” without saying towards whom. So far, he has not been relentless and chilling to drug lords. They smuggle drugs through Customs by paying the Davao Group.

He shudders at the thought of captured drugs reaching communities, but he forgets to mention the 6.4 billion pesos worth of shabu allegedly smuggled by his son. This did not raise a single goose pimple on him. He shudders at drugs, yet he is eternally silent on the single biggest drug shipment this country has ever seen. Again, 23,000 are dead, but the smugglers of the 6.4 billion pesos of shabu and other bigtime drug lords are still roaming free.

He says he cannot deal with contractualization and ENDO because his powers can only reach so far. He says that is a problem for Congress. Apparently, ending contractualization is the limit of Duterte’s political will. So much arrogance of power, yet so little effort for social justice.

He warns the mining industry again that they will be called to account for environmental destruction. But we all know he already lost the battle on destructive mining when, under pressure, he dropped his former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez like a hot potato.

He says he continues to confront China on the issue of the West Philippine Sea. This is the biggest joke ever. But no one was laughing, especially not the fishermen forced to “barter” their fish for instant noodles. He responds to the installation of Chinese missiles in the Spratlys by letting the Chinese land military planes in Davao City. This is not confronting China. This is capitulating to China.

He says his proposed federal constitution will fulfill the aspiration of the Filipino people, even when their aspiration is neither for federalism nor charter change. His federal constitution will have as many congresses or regional assemblies as there are federated regions, when he cannot even stop one House of one Congress from making a spectacle out of a power struggle that welcomed his SONA.

The only good thing about the SONA was that Duterte stuck to his script. His acting was almost impeccable, as if his words were describing reality, even when reality was obscure in his speech. The script and the acting would have been good for a movie. But running the country is not like making a movie. The country is still in shambles. Not even Director Joyce Bernal can fix that. ###

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