On the penultimate SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte

On the penultimate SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte

Senator Win Gatchalian welcomes President Rodrigo Duterte’s directives on various measures to push forward the economic recovery cited on Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), amid the country’s battle against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Batasang Pambansa Plenary Hall where the president of the republic traditionally delivers the yearly State of the Nation Address, 24 July 2018 file. With a projected recession in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Win Gatchalian expressed hopes that the President’s economic recovery plan, if implemented efficiently down to the grassroots level, will solve hunger and poverty problems. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

For Gatchalian, the economic agenda set by the President is quite comprehensive. It is embodied in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) which is supported and certified as urgent by the President. The Bayanihan 2 will supplement funds for recovery and response against the impact of the CoViD-19 pandemic. This includes emergency subsidy to workers, cash-for-work programs, prevention and control of other diseases, and support programs for impacted sectors. It will also give the President the mandate to realign funds within the General Appropriations Act so that he can immediately respond to the changing social landscape brought about by the pandemic.

The vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs accedes to the President’s key economic legislative measures: one is the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act, which cuts the corporate income tax to 25 percent from the current 30 percent; and two, the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer or FIST Act that will assist banks and other financial institutions in managing their non-performing assets (NPAs).

Gatchalian also commends the President’s support for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by providing capitalization for their business operations, and for providing loans and assisting displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in entrepreneurship projects. The President laid out a series of policy support for MSMEs such as reprieve from rent and regulatory relief from banks and other financial institutions through the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“The real challenge, however, is operationalizing these plans. Putting all of these into action at the least possible time is the most essential objective that we need to accomplish now. The people need to see these implemented as fast as the government can,“ said Gatchalian.

Given a growing digital market as the country adapts to the new normal, Gatchalian asks the Duterte government to make true on its promise to lead the way in the country’s transition to online systems; all government agencies should make all possible services available online, adopt a paper-less type business, and finally get rid of long queues in government offices.

The President has also outlined in detail his administration’s policy for online consumer protection and the government’s own transition to full digitalization. Gatchalian said these are critical components for our country to undertake to move to a digitalized new normal world.

“The pandemic has opened the doors for both businesses and the government to utilize technology as the new way of transacting and communicating with their respective stakeholders. This utilization of technology can eventually lead to a much-desired efficiency and will eliminate corruption,” Gatchalian said.

With COVID-19 infecting more than 80,000 Filipinos now, Gatchalian emphasizes that this is the best opportune time for everyone to set aside political differences and work towards a common goal which is beneficial to all Filipinos.