On President Duterte’s 5th SONA: Workers neglected again, no Comprehensive Plan to Address this Pandemic

August 5, 2020


Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc.

As an institution that is in the frontline for workers’ rights, we are greatly dismayed with the recent 5th State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte. Nothing was discussed on how to save the workers and the Filipino people from further hunger, to combat the pandemic comprehensively, and to rehabilitate the economy.

During this pandemic, the workers have been hard-hit economically. With massive retrenchment came dwindling incomes. Unemployment in the country rose to its historic high of not less than 14 million while under-employed tallied to 7 million. Worse, crooked employers capitalized on the pandemic to terminate workers’ employment without valid reasons. We have been able to monitor numerous reports of workers being retrenched from work while their employers kept hiring new ones. Said workers were not even paid their separation pay.

The Social Amelioration Program of the government through its various agencies was not enough to aid the lost income of the workers. Despite the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act expiring last June 24, 2020, no additional budget has been passed into law to support the starving workers and poor Filipinos.

As the country’s Covid-19 contraction surges exponentially, Pres. Duterte failed to present a concrete and comprehensive plan on defeating the pandemic.

We need pro-people medical solutions through the implementation of mass testing and contact tracing. The needs of our medical front-liners must be addressed urgently. And a roadmap must be developed to save our downgraded economy and provide jobs for all unemployed Filipinos with safe and health-reliable measures in the workplace.

The recent outcry of Doctors and medical workers validated the lack of plan and incompetency of government’s handling of the situation. It is no wonder because the National Task Force for COVID Response was composed of mostly retired military generals. And this militaristic view of Pres. Duterte again emerged as he insisted during his SONA to reinstate the Death Penalty Law which the Filipinos don’t need.

The true State of the Nation is vivid; millions are unemployed, starving, and dying from the virus and sickness. Yet the oligarchy remains, human rights violations multiplied, our sovereignty remains unasserted, the national economy sank, and corruption persisted. The latest controversy in Philhealth of the anomalies perpetrated by its executives is another testament of the persisting corruption under Pres. Duterte’s administration.

Under four years of Pres. Duterte’s militaristic approach of governance, no real “change” as promised has benefited the Filipino people.

Four years into his presidency, the social ills remain. The economy has even worsened with the national debt reaching P9 trillion. Endo/contractualization is still flourishing, as well as corruption. With the remaining two years of Duterte’s presidency, we hope that he focuses his efforts on improving the lives of ordinary people.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge that genuine change in this country truly lies on the collective will and decisive action of Filipinos.###