Duterte delivers 5th SONA

Rodrigo Roa Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Dutertem who arrived at the Batasang Pambansa on a helicopter, spoke to a sparse audience of lawmakers and guests, enumerating several programs that the executive department should  implement as well as measures that  Congress should pass in order to reshape the country amid the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease.

He started with a swipe at the 'oligarch' Lopez family which owns ABS-CBN which had failed to have its franchise renewed.

In his penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte also pushed for the reimposition of the Death Penalty by lethal injection in the drug-related cases.

In line with tradition, the SONA was delivered at Batasan Complex but due to the threat of COVID-19, only a limited number of attendees was allowed..Vice President Leni Robredo and other former Presidents attended via Zoom.

In his speech, President Duterte asked Congress to expedite the passage of Department of OFW and Department of Disaster Resilience in order to prepare the country for crises that may happen in the future.

The President ordered the TESDA to come up with special training for the displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to help them get other skills and get a living.

He asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to provide scholarships to the children of the OFWs particularly those deserving.

Likewise the President urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to create entrepreneur projects for displaced OFWs and for the LandBank to provide loans to the OFWs.

“Sa mga kababayan ko na naghirap sa ibang bansa, dito na ang government nyo para ttulungan kayo at inyong pamilya,” he said.

There are more than 110,000 OFWs who lost their jobs due to pandemic.

For the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the President wanted more assistance acknowledging that they provide jobs to the Filipinos.

“Let us help them recover. We pump prime the rehabilitation of MSMEs. Let’s provide loan assistance with zero interest,” the president added.

The government has allocated at least P1 billion assistance for the MSMEs.

He also called on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and banks operating in the country to provide regulatory relief and to give loans and extend terms of payment without interest.

“We need your help so that MSMES will not collapse,” he added.

The President gave a warning to telecom service providers like Globe and Smart to improve telecommunication services for e-commerce and online education or face expropriation.

He is giving telcos until December to improve their service.

Meanwhile, President Duterte thanked all the frontliners for fulfilling their jobs to save lives and local government units in their respective response to COVID-19.