President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) was “quite comprehensive and sets the direction for the 18th Congress’ legislative agenda,” Senator Win Gatchalian said.
“The message is very clear to the legislators that the President wants to pass the remaining legislation that has not been passed in the past three years,” Gatchalian said.
“These are very difficult pieces of legislations and it demands a lot of debate and a lot of study and the President feels that these pieces of legislation are essential for him to perform his mandate,” he added.
Gatchalian said he was pleased that the President, in particular, touched on corruption, the West Philippine Sea, agriculture, and poverty in his speech.
He stressed that Duterte’s fourth SONA was also a very clear message that President is very serious in eradicating corruption in government.
“The message is very clear that the President is going to be tough on corruption because he feels, and I also agree with the President, that corruption is also connected to drugs, poor services, and poverty,” Gatchalian said.
“Corruption the root cause of many ills of our society,” he stressed.
Moreover, the lawmaker said the President was also very clear that he wants to take the diplomatic route in dealing with West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.
“This is a balancing act and the statement of the President is quite strong – this is the strongest statement that I have heard from him in the last three years,” he said. “The strategy and the route are very clear that he wants to take the diplomatic route and he wants to balance it and at one point assert it heavily.”
“For me, what is quite satisfying personally, is his assertion that WPS is ours, no ifs, no buts,” he added.
In terms of poverty, the Gatchalian said the President touched on some of the government’s anti-poverty programs, especially on agriculture.
He lauded Duterte for ordering the Landbank of the Philippines to “focus on its core mandate, which is to lend out to the agriculture sector.”
“These are a few strategies that the administration will employ to jumpstart agriculture because it has been a laggard for the last six years,” Gatchalian said. “Of course, we want to see more details because it is a complex industry but refocusing Landbank to lend more is a very good start because access to capital for our farmers has been a big problem.”
In his speech, Duterte lamented that LBP was “marred in so many commercial transactions” despite its mandate to help farmers. He threatened to shut down the state-run bank if it could not fulfill its mandate.