To President Duterte:
Here's our reply to your 2018 SONA
On the drug war: You said that your campaign against illegal drug will be relentless, and chilling. If you plan to be relentless, maybe you also plan to give us an idea how to do it in the long term. In any war, you can never kill all your opponents. To win a war, you must prevent the cause from surfacing and resurfacing. Maybe its time to give us a hint on how you propose to rehabilitate the thousands of drug users you just jailed, and to move forward to a more holistic approach to solve the problem. What you surely did not take into account is what your police brands as the "collateral damage" of this war. Everyday, we see peasants, children and vulnerable persons who get killed in the name of your war against drugs. If you're concerned with human lives, then they shouldn't be collateral damages to you.
On corruption: Thank you for acknowledging the involvement of your friends in the government, and the fact that you had to fire them. There are still plenty of them in your ranks. And oh, you should not have approved the election of the most corrupt person in your government. And please don't give us that co-equal branch banana, you have succeeded unseating the Chief Justice with just a speech.
Bangsamoro law: That this was delayed in favor of that show in the House of Representatives speaks a lot of the scruples of your people. Nonetheless, we thank you for this long delayed legislation. You gave yourself 48 hours to sign the law. The clock is ticking.
Foreign policy: Your "barter" foreign policy worries us - especially because they're killing the livelihood of our already marginalized fisherfolks. We're no experts, but we know that the goal of any foreign policy is to promote a country's national interest. Unless of course, you're moving to China.
Contractualization: You have promised a limb but you only gave them your smallest fingernail. The trade unions relied on you, who made the promises. Don't let this be one of those promises that you have to break.
Coconut farmers: After the deafening silence in the past months, we thank you for acknowledging the need to uphold what is due for Filipino coconut farmers. We hope to see this unfold in the coming months.
Boracay closure: You closed down Boracay, saying that you will subject the island to agrarian reform. We have yet to see how you will do it.
Land use act: For us, the highest point of your speech. Thank you for reiterating the call. The land use act will prevent the tragedy of Boracay, and will protect property rights of small-scale farmers and indigenous communities. Senator Villar, we hope you heard the President clearly.
Tax reform: As of this point, we're still waiting for how you intend to support those in the informal sector in order to cushion them from the effects of high prices.
Federalism: As we have frequently said, any move to reform our institutions must go through extensive consultation and studying. As of now we're only hearing the voice of the lawyers. Majority of the Filipinos reject federalism. Doesn't that speak well of what our priorities should be?
Cover photo by Getty Images
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