Point-by-point debunking of Duterte’s SONA 2020

POINT-BY-POINT DEBUNKING OF DUTERTE’S SONA 2020

By Jose Maria Sison

Chief Political Consultant,National Democratic Front of the Philippines

July 30, 2020

In his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte rattles off as many as 32 points that are either outrightly false, inaccurate, evasive, self-contradictory, repetitious and inane.  At a certain point in his speech, he made a mock admission that he himself more than his listeners could not understand what he was reading.

The purpose of what appeared to be a joke was to further confound the audience and use the disjointed character of the speech to draw attention away from the fact that he takes no responsibility for the spread of the  COVID-19 contagion, the unduly repressive measures and corruption attending his failed campaign and the lack of a plan to revive the economy and allow the people to regain the jobs and other means of livelihood that they have lost during the prolonged lockdown.

Worst of all, the SONA does not manifest any remorse and desire to rectify all the colossal crimes that Duterte and his ruling clique have committed to make his regime the worst since the end of the Marcos fascist dictatorship in terms of tyranny, treason, mass murder, plunder and chicanery.  The SONA proves that the Duterte reign of terror and greed is incorrigible and must be ousted as soon as possible to stop the ruination of the nation.

1. No Plan and No Accounting. Duterte stressed curtly the toll the COVID-19 pandemic had taken on the Philippines. But he made no accounting of the hundreds of billions of pesos already spent and the trillions of pesos borrowed supposedly to fund the campaign against the pandemic. He did not explain the gross lack of mass testing and the crippling of medical services as well as the absence of cash and other forms of relief to the people who had been prevented from earning a living. He has no plan but to wait for the vaccine from China. In the meantime, he is admittedly inutile in fighting the pandemic but quite effective in diverting public funds to private pockets and away from the people in dire need.

2.  The Chief Oligarch Gloats. He criticized at great length the ABS-CBN media network and called the Lopez oligarchs.  It was his way of gloating over his success at personal vendetta and claiming that his plurality of less than 39 per cent  of the vote was a “landslide”. Worst of all, by calling the Lopezes oligarchs, he seems to forget that he is the chief oligarch and tyrant at the head of the most powerful section of the big comprador-landlord oligarchy.  The dumbo practically slaps his own face in his vain attempt to confuse the people.

3.  Attack on Senator Drilon. He also attacked at length the opposition senator Drilon for defending press freedom, criticizing the closure of ABS-CBN and saying that political dynasties like those of Duterte and his political allies, ought to be banned to truly dismantle the oligarchy.  In fact, Duterte is trying hard to deliver public utilities from one set of oligarchs to his own set of oligarch cronies.

4.  Praise for Bong Go. He praised his perpetual valet and sweetheart, Bong Go, for continuing to do errands and push pet bills  for him in Congress. It is Duterte’s way of downgrading Senator Drilon to the level of a fake senator who was “elected” in a seven-hour glitch to reconfigure the actual results of the senatorial elections in 2019.

5. Praise for a Corrupt Project. He also praised  the 30th Southeast Asian Games to please another valet of his whom he has made the Speaker of the Lower House.  This athletic event was characterized by flagrant corruption and poor planning.  Duterte has the evil character of boasting of and  showing off criminal success and his ability to keep the loyalty of his subalterns by condoning their criminal acts and probably sharing in the loot.

6. False Claim about the Economy. He boasted of the Philippines as being in a strong economic position with the false claim of having positive credit ratings. He lied through his teeth that the Philippines is in a better position to weather the crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He obscured the rapidly worsening crisis of the Philippine economy and the world capitalist system and his regime’s lack of any plan to cope with this crisis which preceded the pandemic.

7. Boasting of Stunted Program. He boasted of infrastructure projects being completed but could not mention any beyond those planned and initiated by the previous Aquino regime.  Neither did he mention that China had fallen too far short of delivering on its promise of USD 24 billion for his dwindled Build Build Build Program. At any rate, he is truly ignorant of economics beyond building roads and bridges for the export of raw materials and distribution of finished manufactures from abroad, suffering from chronic trade and budgetary deficits and covering these with mounting public debt, both local and foreign debt.

8.  Militarist Mindset of the Tyrant. Unwittingly, he revealed the cause of his failure to stop the COVID-19 contagion by admitting his militarist mindset in using excessively repressive measures against the people, instead of dealing with the problem as a medical one. Worse, he expressed a determination to go further “with the same fervor”  in using Tokhang methods against the people, as in the bogus war on drugs.

9.  Invoking Human Rights to Violate Them. He justified his gross and systematic violations of human rights by invoking one human right against another.  He has always been proud of using the law to commit crimes against the people, especially the poor, by publicly emboldening his armed minions to make false claims of self-defense, plant evidence and frame up suspects either for illegal arrest or for murder.

10. Failure to Help the OFWs. He went through the motion of ordering various agencies to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who had lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and called for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos in an obvious attempt to distract public attention from the inhumane and unhealthy quarantining of returning OFWs in congested enclosures.

11. Minimizing the Big Failure. He admitted but minimized as mere “difficulties”, “lapses” or “imperfections” the extreme use of militarist measures and gross failure to do mass testing and distribution of emergency aid during the lockdowns. But he also forgot how the pandemic had spread by forcing the people to go back to their  provinces of origin and at the same time depriving them of adequate transport.

12.  One More Bayanihan Scam. He called on Congress to pass the so-called Bayanihan to Recover as one One Act, without any public accounting of the public funds appropriated under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and without any explanation of why the people did not get any medical attention and emergency aid. Once more a bill is going to be passed as a device for corruption from the level of the Duterte cronies downwards in the name of helping small businesses, displaced workers and poor families, online learning and COVID-19 testing. The plunder continues in the name of the pandemic.

13.  Lower Corporate Taxes at the Expense of the Public. He also called on Congress to do “tax reform” by lowering  corporate taxes and provide more financial incentives for investors in the name of economic recovery.  From where else but the consumers paying higher excise taxes in higher-priced consumer goods and higher fees for services will the government get the money to pay for the mounting government deficits and debts?

14. Raising False Hopes Among MSMEs. He directed the already bankrupt and debt-laden Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to allow loan payment extensions for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises without penalties and charges. But can the already bankrupted enterprises  recover in a year or two or  walk into a deeper economic crisis?

15. False Touting of Local Tourism. He prematurely called on Filipinos to do local tourism in order to boost the economy.  But this sort of thing cannot be done so soon because the people are still suffering from unprecedented unemployment and travel restrictions and there is the threat of further lockdowns due to the still spreading  pandemic.

16. Begging for Vaccine from China. He begged China President Xi Jinping to prioritize the Philippines in  providing an effective vaccine should a Chinese company produce one. He talks and acts arrogantly as a tyrant towards the Filipino people but he is extremely beggarly to his Chinese master. His pleading for a vaccine from China takes the place of a definite plan to fight the pandemic.

17. Online Learning as Pretext for Takeover or Control of Major Networks. While advocating local tourism, he announced that face-to-face classes would not be allowed until the arrival of the vaccine. He proposed online learning for students although he could have also offered online tourism for the much deprived Filipinos whom he regarded as leisurely. He indicated that his government could carry out only online learning by taking TV frequencies from ABS-CBN and possibly other networks in preparation for takeover or control by DITO CME Holdings Corp. of his crony Dennis Uy.

18. Imposing Dennis Uy on Ayala and Pangilinan. Duterte threatened to have the government take the “first option” to utilize public utilities and use “drastic steps” and expropriate telecommunications giants if they do not improve their services. Duterte pretends to be running against the neoliberal policy and fighting oligarchs of older vintage. But his actual scheme is for the DITO CME of his crony Dennis Uy to either take over PLDT Inc. (Smart) and Globe or take a ride on their existing cell towers and other facilities to achieve the G5 supremacy of China Telecom, Huawei and DITO CME.  But the whole world knows that the US is already acting vigorously to ban the Chinese G5 from allied countries, as already done in the UK and Brazil. The Ayalas and Pangilinans know how to counter the overambitious upstart oligarchs like Duterte and Dennis Uy.

19.  Belated Plans for Next Year. After submitting himself to and enforcing  the neoliberal policy of privatizing health services and leaving the people extremely vulnerable to a pandemic like COVID-19,  Duterte pretended to list plans to  increase the number of health workers deployed to barangay health stations, rural health units, and other healthcare facilities next year. He also called on Congress to pass a series of bills, like the Nursing Education Act, a law establishing the Medical Reserve Corps, and another law creating a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to respond to future outbreaks of epidemics. In the meantime, COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever before.

20.  Further Racketeering in the Counterrevolution. Duterte did not mention the  armed revolutionary movement of the Filipino people led by the Communist Party of the Philippines. But he unwittingly indicated the growing strength of the New People’s Army by citing the deaths of soldiers in skirmishes as reason for the urgency of implementing the so-called Barangay Development Program,  a racketeering scheme for military officers to siphon public funds to their pockets in the name of community development. He touted the Armed Forces of the Philippines as playing “a vital role in the whole -nation approach”.  He did not mention the possibility of any peace negotiations with the NDFP in line with his termination of these and with his actual imposition of state terrorism on the people in preparation for charter change and full-blown fascist dictatorship.

21. Brazen Lie about Martial Law in Mindanao. He dished out a gross and brazen lie that the martial law in Mindanao, extended three times, was successful and ended without abuses.  This is contrary to the documentation made by the human rights organization, Karapatan, showing some 800,000 victims of human right violations in more than three years of military rule. To this day, the ruins of Marawi City stand as monument to the Duterte legacy of death and destruction as well as the incompetence, corruption and failure of the regime and its military agents in realizing the promise of prompt rehabilitation and reconstruction.

22.  Threat to Bring Back Death Penalty. True to form as tyrant ever ready to intimidate the people, he asked Congress to bring back the death penalty by lethal injection  for crimes under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.  He noted the lukewarm attitude of the lawyers and yet he could not recall that the Philippine government had signed in 2007 the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibited the death penalty. In the meantime, Duterte continues to satisfy  his lust for blood with his standing orders to his armed minions to kill suspects.  He has already achieved the mass murder of more than 30,000 poor people listed as drug users and peddlers. He is now expanding his campaign of mass murder to social activists, critics and political opponents under his law of state terrorism.

23.  More Benefits for Armed Minions. Ever inclined to buy the loyalty of the military, police and auxiliaries in the fire department and in customs, he called for the passage of the Unified Military and Uniformed Personnel Separation, Retirement, and Pension Bill and calls for the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Immigration. He has maintained his far lower concern for the public school teachers, public health personnel and social workers despite their increasing work overload and the rising costs of living.

24.  Proposed Law to Enhance Land Grabbing. He called on Congress to pass the National Land Use Act to facilitate the alienation of public land to foreign monopoly interests, big compradors, landlords and high bureaucrats, the monopolization of the land by a few and the plunder of the environment in the name of economic growth. He ignores completely the need for genuine land reform and national industrialization as the basic program of Philippine economic development.  In the meantime, his armed minions are murdering an increasing number of activists defending the environment and land rights of the indigenous people and peasantry.

25. Proposed Law to Favor Chinese Acquisition of Islands. He called on Congress to pass a law creating the Boracay Island Development Authority supposedly to sustain results of so-called  rehabilitation efforts in the tourist island.  The real purpose is to consolidate the intrusion of Chinese casino and tourist enterprises into the island and have a legal model for realizing the Chinese takeover of Philippine islands as extensions of the Chinese militarized artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea.

26. Law to Further Enable Theft of Public Funds. He called for the passage of a law establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund and a P66-billion agricultural stimulus package through the Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act.  These are schemes to further deprive the coconut farmers of the benefits from the coco levy extorted from them by Marcos and Eduardo Cojuangco and to steal more public funds  in the name of rural agricultural and fisheries development. More than ever before, the peasants are now suffering the lack of genuine land reform and the rising costs of living. So are the fishermen who are now being driven away from the West Philippine Sea by Chinese naval patrols and militia with the consent of Duterte and his military loyalists.

27. Pretense at Rejecting US in Favor China. He announced his rejection of a plan for the US to return to Subic through a commercial agreement.  His rejection could be no different from his previous fake intent to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. He made the announcement in order to please China momentarily and induce it to release some of the promised loans that it is holding back. But Duterte is predeterminedly bound to US imperialism by military treaties and agreements and by his being encircled by military officers who are in the main pro-US and anti-China.  In fact, Duterte secretly assures the US and his pro-US military officers that he is merely trying to put one over China, which in turn is holding back its promised loans unless he makes a more brazen surrender of Philippine sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone.

28. More Show of Treason and Cowardice towards China. So desperate to get the Chinese loans for his stunted Build Build Build Program, Duterte treasonously and shamelessly with utmost cowardice declared in his SONA that “he cannot assert” the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea out of fear that the assertion could spark war with China. He the tyrant, so arrogant to the Filipino people, cravenly admitted that he was inutile over the issue of said rights being violated by China and conceded that China was “in possession of the South China Sea”.

The shameless traitor and coward Duterte is openly acting as an agent of China, intimidating the people and throwing away the 2016 judgment  of the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and in favor of the Philippines against the false claim of China. By allowing China to have seven military bases in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, the Duterte regime has enabled China to threaten and discourage the development  of oil and gas resources with an estimated value of USD 26 trillion which would have been several times more than enough to finance genuine land reform and national industrialization and to pave the way for a just peace in the Philippines.

29.  Demagogy of Duterte as No. 1 Criminal. He repeated his worn-out demagogic spiel  that he is “the enemy of criminals” and warned that bodies would pile  up if they returned to their ways.  But he is the No.1 criminal in the Philippines and he is the No. 1 enemy of the Filipino people. He has never reformed and has no remorse whatsoever for grievously harming the people with his traitorous, tyrannical, genocidal, plundering and swindling crimes.

30.  Enjoying the Protraction of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Duterte made it indubitably clear that he could not reopen the  economy soon to pre-COVID-19 levels because the supposed gains he had made against the pandemic would be quickly wasted. He admitted the continuing rise of infections but not his own culpability for spreading the pandemic, lack of plan, incompetence, and obsession with using the pandemic to grab more power and more public funds and in the process deprive the people of medical testing, treatment and economic assistance.  He has taken advantage of the pandemic to grab emergency powers, enact the law of state terrorism, curtail press freedom and rechannel hundreds of billions of pesos of public funds to private accounts.

31. Asking for Trust Amid Public Distrust. He went through the motion of asking the Filipino people to trust him and his government and stressed that “worse times loom ahead”.  He and his ruling clique do not deserve the trust of the people.  He has so grievously and habitually violated that trust. It is high time for the people to oust him from power, together with his gang of butchers and crooks. A traitorous, tyrannical, genocidal, plundering and swindling regime cannot be allowed to oppress and exploit the people any further.

32. Repeated Pretense of the No. 1 Oligarch Against the Oligarchy. Pretending to be ignorant of himself and his own criminal gangmates, he tried to direct fire repeatedly against the “oligarchs who had controlled public utilities” since the Spanish colonial times.  He is the No. 1 oligarch and his clique of oligarchs have presently the most power and the most access to the banks for their economic and political benefit.  He vowed to use his political power and the government  to transfer the transmission lines and utilities from one set of oligarchs to another set of oligarchs favored by him.

Conclusion

Let us observe how the contradictions among the oligarchs will play out.   This is a major manifestation of the crisis of the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system that is worsening rapidly and disabling the ruling class from ruling in the old way.  The crisis conditions are inflicting intolerable oppression and exploitation of the people but are at the same time favorable for the rapid growth in strength and advance of the revolutionary forces of the people.  The broad range of legal democratic forces and  revolutionary forces of the people must accelerate all efforts to oust the evil Duterte regime and advance the struggle for full national independence, democracy, social justice, all-round development, progress, prosperity and peace. ###

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