From Presidential Communications Operations Office, Presidential News Desk
[Delivered at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 26, 2021]
Kindly sit down.
By far this is the most beautiful SONA crowd that ever happened here. [applause and cheers] So many — so many beautiful faces and you only have to guess when you see the full face of the person.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and the honorable members of the Senate; House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco and the honorable members of the House of Representatives; Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo; former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Ejercito Estrada; the Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and the justices of the Supreme Court; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and the members of the Cabinet; Dean of the Diplomatic Corps His Excellency Archbishop Charles John Brown and the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps; my fellow government workers; and of course to my lovely wife Honeylet; mga mahal kong kababayan [applause].
When I assumed the presidency five years ago, dominant in my mind were dreams and visions of a better life for all Filipinos. I saw them as reachable through the institution of reforms and radical changes in both the structure of government and the mode of governance – changes designed [to yield] responsibility [and] accountability. All in consonance with the truth that public office is a public trust.
When I ran for the presidency, I just made fundamental promises and strangely you can count them by the fingers of your hand. I made those changes, which I thought that was really at that time doable.
To offer free education — it’s there already — the Universal Health Care [applause], nandiyan na po; the fight against illegal drugs, [applause] criminality and corruption; and the development of infrastructure, including free irrigation and other big ticket projects, which I thought I did now have the funds to do it, but per chance, among others, they were done in my term.
Today as I approach the end of my term, I have less visions but more remembrances. But mine is not to rue or to second guess what might have been, but to bear and respond with urgency [to the impact] of unforeseen events as they unfold.
Even before I took my oath of office, [I] – and everyone else, I suppose – knew the gravity [and] enormity of the problems that the country was facing. And precisely because of that awareness, I was driven to hasten the implementation of changes which I believed the country needed, keeping in mind that the Constitution afforded me only six years to make those changes happen. Making a difference within the constitutional time-frame is what I was up against. But no one gets by legally without worming through the needle’s eye of constitutional imperatives.
That is why I cajoled, I shoved, I pushed, and I tangled with men of wealth and influence who were oblivious to the anguish and pleas of the weak and impoverished. And for that, I was pilloried to no end. But I did not succumb to the attacks. And neither did I allow criticisms, however intense, to dampen my determination and initiatives, because my purpose was pure and unpolluted. [applause]
While we were busy instituting reforms, the twin ogres of illegal drugs and corruption laid low for a while only to resurface us — still with us, and make no mistake about it corruption is but another term for stealing people’s money, dashing, in its wake, a nation’s goals and aspirations.
Due to the brilliant programs and excellent work of our economic managers and the extraordinary cooperation between the executive and the legislative branches of government, our economy, with investor confidence, was poised to leapfrog into the company of the world’s fastest growing economies until the COVID-19 pandemic stalled everything.
Be that as it may, allow me this opportunity to extend my personal and the nation’s gratitude to all those who selflessly gave their all in the fight against COVID-19. Our health workers and other frontliners who risked their own safety [applause] to keep our essential health services and our food supply chain running, [boost] economic activity, and ensure peace and order in our communities.
I would like also to extend my deepest appreciation for the generosity of the private sector who came to the government’s aid in fighting COVID-19. [applause] I am profoundly thankful for your sustained assistance to our fellow Filipinos, [applause] amidst the same deleterious effect of the pandemic to your respective industries. Let me assure you that the government is committed to assist the private sector to regain the commercial vibrance of the country prior to the pandemic. [applause]
To our local [chief] executives, this pandemic pushed you to step up and deliver responsive assistance. I am glad to have seen you undertake new and heightened responsibilities, working doubly hard to protect your constituents. [applause]
To the international development partners who extended a helping hand amidst the global health emergency, the Philippines remembers your kindness and goodwill with sincere gratitude. [applause]
And to all of you who answered the call to protect one another by adhering to our nation’s health protocols, daghang salamat. [applause]
But then, let me ask, perhaps you and to myself: What exactly is the state of the nation today in the light of the pandemic which has paralyzed business activities and crippled even the strongest of the world’s economies? So where do we go from here?
[Looking Back to our Accomplishments]
In my first SONA, I laid down with utmost commitment and resolve the overall direction of my presidency: a comfortable life for all Filipinos anchored on a people-centered approach to development and governance. If I remember correctly, my administration, I said, will implement a human approach to development and governance, in our people’s welfare in the areas of health, free education, adequate food and housing, environmental preservation, and respect for the culture.
I bore no illusion that steering the nation towards a comfortable life for every Filipino would be easy. Indeed, the past five years have truly been challenging and humbling. I stand here before you today bearing no conceit, but if there is one thing that I could be proud of is that not once did I waver in doing the unpopular even if it meant upholding the greatest good for the greatest number. [applause]
Before I took office, our country was beset with a communist insurgency scattered across the nation, a separatist movement that sought to divide us on the basis of religion and religious differences, and the proliferation of illegal drugs and criminality.
Our armed forces were ill-equipped to deal with internal and external threats, while the police force had been overwhelmed by criminality and the drug trade problem. This is why I made it a priority to strengthen the institution and boost the morale of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police, and other armed services. [applause]
Again, I thank Congress for working with the executive department in enhancing the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP through our modernization program.
In 2018, we raised the salaries of our military and uniformed policemen and personnel [applause] to a level commensurate to the critical role they play in upholding national security and maintaining order.
I am asking Congress to pass a Unified System for Separation, Retirement and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel to maintain [applause] government fiscal flexibility and provide adequate benefits and remuneration to our men and women in uniform. This shall apply only to the new entrants of the Military and [Uniformed] Services.
Hindi ho lahat. It cannot be that we have to pay so many, even the salaries of the retired. They get a chunk of the big budget. And if we include the new entrants, the funds available for them would not be enough.
It is also high time for us to pass a law providing Free Legal Assistance to AFP and PNP Officers and Enlisted Personnel [applause] to help [defend] them from charges arising from incidents related to the performance of official duty. [applause]
The continuous upgrading of our defense capability shall ensure that we shall uphold our territorial integrity and sovereignty from external and [internal] security threats, among the new additions. [applause] We welcomed the country’s two missile-capable warships, to enable us to protect our seas.
By providing them with the necessary equipment, by enhancing their professional capabilities, and looking after the families of the soldiers who would not be longer be in their company. We do not only strengthen our military and police institutions – we also inspire them to serve this nation with the highest degree of loyalty and patriotism. We enabled them to carry out their mandate to defeat all enemies of the state whatever the cost.
Indeed, I am proud of the accomplishments of our troops in securing our nation against all threats to our democratic institutions. [applause] But peace must be realized — peace and security is not only just a military concern. That is why we deviated from the traditional purely military approach in dealing with matters of national security.
With the creation of the National Task Force to End [Local] Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, [applause] we have made great strides in addressing the root causes of this conflict by empowering our kababayans who have been used by the communists for so many decades.
In our continuing effort to build safe and conflict-resilient barangays, we have worked towards the sustainable rehabilitation and development of communities where the communists used to operate.
Through the NTF-ELCAC, we invested in farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation [systems], [applause] health stations, and livelihood [projects].
Alam mo, kasali na tayo dito lahat. Always every law or every regulation must pass Congress, of course, to the President. But sometimes, you know, in our… Well, in the performance of our duties, we encounter the not-so-nice of confronting each other.
But because of these interventions, more than [17,000] former communist rebels have surrendered to the government. They have returned to the fold of the law and are happily reintegrating to [society], [the Enhanced Community Local Integration Program] or E-CLIP. [applause]
It’s either I am talking to fast or too slow or the operator of this thing here is drowsy. [applause] Maybe because I had so many ad libs along the way. Marami ho akong akin lang. Kaya ‘yung… [applause] Nahinto ako. When I stop and I process something in my — the gray matter between my ears. Hindi humahabol o hindi alam ng operator.
Hindi bale, ma’am. Mahal pa rin kita. [applause] Lalaki ba ito o ‘yung mga babae? Kagabi ‘yung mga babae. Sila? O sabihin mo sa kanila makipagkita ako mamaya. I will embrace them for their punctuality in operating this ano — this strange machine that [applause] gives you the speech.
With the support of our local government units, I am confident that support for the communist movement will continue to erode in the next few months. [applause] And like the decades-old Moro rebellion in Mindanao, we will also bring an end to the armed struggle of the communists once and for all. [applause]
Sa totoo lang, itong komunista college pa ako. Hanggang ngayon, ang mga — sige pa rin. So… Speech-speech man lang ito. Kunwari lang pero ang totoo there’s a lot of fighting going on in the countryside. But I’d like to credit the police and the military for destroying so many communist fronts. [applause] I think they have destroyed more than 15 apparatus of the fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Alam mo, mag-istorya muna tayo sa taxation. I’d like to be frank with you. Everybody, as everybody in this country, are paying taxes to the communists. The Communist Party earns billions but pass on a little to their fighting men who die for an ideology that is so rotten and corrupt.
They themselves are pocketing the money and their children are studying in Europe and in other places, which I think none of you here can finance such journey. Iyan ang masakit dito. They collect taxes, support Sison in Netherlands, and they do nothing but bad-mouth government and mouth the war dogmas and everything.
Hindi na sila napagod. It’s about 53 years in the making. And until today, the poor people are dying. The cadres and most of them belonging to the indigenous tribes of our country are fighting a losing battle between the communist and the government. They waste lives, they enlist children and they are proud of it, but they deny it.
But when you go to the mountains such as I and Senator Go many times, even during the elections, they were there with so many arms that I think somebody — an idiot here in the Philippines supplied the firearms.
I’d like to ask Congress, especially Senator Bato, kindly dig on because we have identified the person who imported the AK-47 into this country on the pretext of using it in the security — providing security and guards in all, in business establishments and for those who can afford their home.
This policeman, I think, is still there. He was a colonel and he is still… Walang nangyari. At maraming sundalong namatay dahil sa mga armas na pinasok nila dito sa Pilipinas.
So that my orders to the — to you, if you see them walking around, kindly shoot them dead. I would be happy. Anyway, you are already charged in the ICC together with me. So what is the problem of adding another one? Another idiot Filipino who has caused great damage to our country. Iyan ho ang totoo diyan. At itong mga pulis…
But let me go back in time. When I first said I will fight drugs in six months, I thought it was like in Davao. You can either coerce, intimidate or bribe them, or give them money, I said, “Lumabas kayo ng Davao. Doon kayo magkalat sa Luzon at sa ibang lugar, huwag dito sa Davao.” Naniniwala naman ang mga ulol at we were able to attain a sense of normalcy in the city. Iyon ho ang totoo.
There are people charged with corruption and even going to prison for just maybe not telling the truth in their itong assets and liabilities, nakukulong. Eh p***… Itong mga pulis who are doing their thing, their drugs, they were the manufacturers and they were the distributor of drugs. When I became President, I asked Dela Rosa — he was the chief of police of my city — I promoted him direct to be PNP chief. Four star na kaagad automatic. But I told them, I told him and the others, “Look for the enemies. Look where — for where they are and if you find them, destroy the apparatus, destroy all from the manufacturers to the peddlers because we are fighting a drug war that was being participated in the business by nine generals of the PNP.”
Kaya ‘yan ang masakit sa loob ko. I did not know that I was fighting my own government. Customs and everyone else were facilitating the importation of drugs. And one importation, as you can see it every night on TV, the police now seize about almost a billion worth of drugs everyday.
And if you look at the , there are about a thousand Filipinos arrested everyday by the police in connection with drug trafficking. And that is why I go crazy looking at the situation. They are still around. We do not have the laboratories now because nawala na sila at itong naiwan ngayon are doing the importation.
The citizens of another country cooked their shabu in their — [Anong tawag nitong…?] — in their tugboat or something and they threw out the product in — contained in the plastic bags and with GPS attached to the contraband so that the importers here could find them easily. That is how we are fighting almost losing a battle against drugs.
And now the [Sinaloa] gangsters of Mexico and the Triad of Laos in that area, they are busy cooking and we have the Filipinos here with no — with nothing in their mind except to destroy a nation — distributes them. That is what I said.
I’ve been asked the question and several times I gave the answer. I am a Filipino and I love my country. I do not want my country in disarray because of drugs. I do not want families break up and become dysfunctional. Iyon ang masakit sa akin.
When there — if you want to destroy a family, look for a way of the member or a resident of that family home. Bigyan mo ng droga. ‘Pag nandiyan na ‘yung droga at they are hooked, and that is the end. Sometimes families are separated because of drugs, becomes dysfunctional, at ‘yung mga asawa magpunta doon sa abroad, ika nga, to look for jobs.
And you know, in the Middle East — I am not attributing it to any particular country — but there are tribes in the Middle East who are employing our Filipina citizens and they are uniform. Everybody who comes here home ask them how many hours of sleep they have? They said it’s only three to four hours and the food is hogwash.
And they sacrifice because they send money to the families back home and thinking all the time that the money was spent usefully, only to realize when she comes home that that family has already dispersed to nowhere.
Bakit ‘yan? Because itong mga durugista sa baba, itong peddlers, itong basurero tawag — it’s a street lingo — they look for families na may mga nanay, tatay nagtrabaho — ang tatay or nanay nagtatrabaho sa abroad. And to think na iniiwan nila ang mga anak nila kung saan-saan na lang, to their neighbors at a tender age of three to four, five, it breaks your heart.
Iiwan lang nila sa kapitbahay kung walang mga relatives. And then when they come back five years, four years after, they now realized that their young sons and daughters have gone into prostitution because of drugs and their boys or the fem — the male are nowhere to be found and into the drug business also. Iyon ang pinakamasakit.
Masakit sa akin na ang Pilipina pumunta doon para magtrabaho because sexual abuse in some tribes in the Middle East have this notion that if you are a slave or you are a paid person working for them, sexual abuse becomes part of the territory. Kaya diyan ako pumuputok at nakikita ko ‘yung mga pamilya na sira.
And to think that they labored without sleep, eating, I said, garbage, and not being allowed to go to their own church to pray for that is prohibited by them. And we have been just because of the money that they get, we just look the other way around. But still being — you know, bothered every night and they… What will happen to the next succeeding group of…? That is why I have in this speech a talk about slavery.
Pero ‘yan magprangka ako uli, I would never deny and the ICC can record it: Those who destroy my country, I will kill you. And those who destroy the young people of our country, I will kill you. Talagang yayariin kita because I love my country.
You can do it the legal way but it would take you months and years. And you know what? The statistics, I just learned the other night, that plenty of those who are in the middle class have been released from prison despite the fact that they are charged with trafficking, which is non-bailable and most of them are out. Babae pati lalaki ang kaso. And that is why I said I toyed with the idea — I said, if there is still a space — with due respect to the Senate President, he is a good man, he can become a good vice president. He is holy. Ngayon hindi na siya nahuhuli, noon huling-huli siya. But with due respect to Senator Sotto, who is also running for the vice presidency, he is a capable man, a good man and a Filipino. [applause]
Sige ako tingin sa harap, nandito pala sa likod ko. [laughter] You know when you are old — I have been in politics, mayor for 23 years; five years as a congressman, dito, I worked here; and four years of working as vice mayor for my daughter Sara; and the presidency. I have been in politics almost — 23 plus four, plus four — almost 40.
Kaya kung — hindi ko na malaman ang seat arrangement dito. Hindi ko alam nandoon pa ang mga Senate President pati… Buti’t na lang hindi ko sinali si Velasco. Baka hindi na ako makabalik doon maya. ‘Di bale, diretso na ako uwi.
I have said many times before: The bloodshed caused by the separatist movement in Mindanao is all about correcting the historical injustices suffered by the Moro people since the period of colonization. With the help of Congress, we were able to pass the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, [applause] finally fulfilling a promise that was decades in the making.
Our victory in Marawi is also a testament to how the Filipino’s patriotism is far stronger than any extremist group. As I have said before, many times, there is no room for lawlessness in this country. [applause]
Rebuilding a better Marawi remains today, still not completed. To Task Force Bangon Marawi, we need to race against time. And you have to finish the necessary work to rehabilitate the war-torn city and bring back its [displaced] families back home.
Now let me talk again about the drugs. I was just ahead because I was talking something else. Nag-segue ako.
While we have made great strides in ending rebellion and insurgency in various parts of the country, we still have a long way in our fight against the proliferation of drugs. This problem has hounded our country for several decades – destroying families and degrading the moral fiber of our society.
When I assumed office, I committed to end this problem at the soonest possible time. We launched an unprecedented war against the illegal drugs and to destroy their apparatus that permeated every level and sector of society. We waged war on the manufacturers, the financiers, the suppliers, the peddlers, and the entire syndicates and, more importantly, their protectors in government. We have rescued and reformed drug dependents because of their idiotic sense of decency by [launching] interventions and building facilities not only for their rehabilitation, but also to prepare them to reintegrate into society.
Our unyielding campaign led to the surrender of millions of drug dependents; and neutralization, capture and prosecution of thousands of drug personalities; the dismantling of illegal drugs and syndicates and the drug laboratories; the extensive drug-[clearing] of communities down to the barangay-level, and the cutting of narco politics.
You know, just allow me a little bit of your time. Wala naman siguro kayong lakad ngayon, unless na you want to — unless you have this appointment with… I’m sure hindi babae ‘yan. That would be a sexist statement. But kung nagmamadali talaga, halos tumatakbo, babae ‘yan. Kung naglalakad lang nang natural, medyo less important ‘yan. Ganoon ‘yan pero dito, wala.
I am not making any sexist — I’m just saying — I’m just saying the truth. What is the truth? It’s there for all to see.
Let me talk about our quest for infrastructure development.
Five years ago, the first thing I made sure was to increase our infrastructure spending to an average of five percent of the country’s GDP. This is significantly higher than the infrastructure spending of each and [of the] past four administrations. Thanks to the comprehensive tax reform program that enabled us to fund critical infrastructure projects. Today, we can see the tangible results all around.
MRT-3, with its frequent breakdowns and unloading of passengers midrail, was a horror that was for the daily commuters to endure in the past.
Now, MRT-3 no longer unloads passengers but to their destinations. The waiting time between trains has been significantly reduced. [From] 10 trains running at only 30 kilometers per hour before, now [MRT-3] runs 23 trains at 60 kilometers per hour. [applause]
We have taken away the misery of public commuting.
We also pursued the completion of the LRT-2 East Extension Project. [applause] By extending Line 2 and adding two more stations, we have reduced travel time between Manila and Antipolo from the usual two or three hours to only just 40 minutes. [applause]
Thanks to our partnership with the private sector, we were able to open Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway in January this year. [applause] This decongested EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila. [applause]
On Independence Day last month, we also inaugurated the Kalayaan Bridge, part of the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Project, [applause] which will reduce the usual one hour travel time between the two business districts to just 12 minutes.
Beyond Metro Manila, we are pursuing several high-impact projects that will be completed within my term and perhaps in the following years. It’s a question of money.
Just this July, we inspected the newly-built passenger terminal building of the Clark International Airport. [applause]
The new and modern passenger terminal is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology. This can accommodate 8 million passengers, alleviate air traffic congestion at the NAIA Airport, as well as serve as a major growth driver and gateway for Northern and Central Luzon. [applause]
Madali man ang magpakpak, ang basa ang mahirap. [cheers and applause]
To help promote equitable development, we also completed several roads leading to important trade corridors. Last year, we completed the construction of the Poro Point Freeport Zone Road in La Union, which improved… [applause]
Nakita na ninyo ‘yan? Wala, sige lang pakpak. [laughter] You do not even have a picture of what I am talking about, I’m sure.
To improve access to prime spots for investments and tourism in the Poro Point area.
We also completed the Junction Lanao-Pagadian-Zamboanga City Road, which will provide easier access to farms and easily transport their agricultural products at low cost and in great quantities to industries and economic zones located in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay. [applause]
The Sorsogon City in Bicol, inuna namin ‘yan kasi mahal ko ang mga Bikolano. [applause] Pangatawanan ninyo ‘yang pakpak ninyo ha, baka…
The Sorsogon City Coastal By-Pass Road is targeted for completion by the end of 2021 while the Davao City Coastal Road will be completed by 2023.
Bakit? Why? Why is Davao last? Kasi sinabi ko sa kanila, unahin ninyo ‘yung buong Pilipinas. During the initial years of my presidency, I told the economic managers and the DPWH, pati si Art Tugade sa Transportation, “Unahin ninyo ang Luzon at ibang areas sa Mindanao. Do not look into the political entrails of the city and the other provinces.” Sinadya ko talaga na ipanghuli ang Davao.
Kaya ang — for the Davaoeños, you must understand that we cannot really unahin natin iyong — kasi taga diyan ako eh. Kung hindi ako sigurado taga-Davao, tapos na ‘yan pareho ng iba. Kaya lang sinabi ko, make Davao the last priority. [applause]
Totoo ‘yan. Sorsogon is a — a little politics, but that’s the territory of our Vice President Leni Robredo. Are you here, Ma’am? Ah, Zoom. Mayroon ho kayong… [applause] Sorsogon at iba pa.
We have inaugurated new highways, roads and skyways. We have bought new trains. These are all testament that we have greatly eased the grueling experience of traveling and commuting.
And to sustain our momentum in infrastructure development, I have directed the DPWH, DOTr, NEDA, Department of Finance and DBM to be on full speed to ensure that our flagship projects will be completed within my term, [applause] especially those that would help disperse economic activity outside the densely populated Metro Manila.
I thus earnestly call upon our LGU and private sector partners to help us [go on] full speed towards the realization of our flagship [infrastructure projects] and others.
Let me talk about — let me dwell about governance.
As we improved connectivity, we worked towards greater convenience for our travelers. We have extended the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years to lessen the burden of our [international] travelers and OFWs. [applause]
We have also gone beyond merely addressing the three million backlog of driver’s licenses in 2016. [applause]
We also extended for the new cards the validity of the driver’s license to five years, and addedly, we shall begin the issuance of these drivers’ licenses within 10 years — which would be good for 10 years if there is no traffic violation. [applause]
So punta ka doon sa LTO, maybe you have a good sight. Mayroong ano ‘yan eh, I think there’s an examination there somewhere to test your ability to drive safely. And you go back 10 years after, and you think that you good — you still have a good sight and your reflexes are still good.
Ten years, maraming banggaan ‘yan, sigurado ako. You know, after 10 years, no after five, there should be a stricter measure to issue the 10 years validity of a driver’s license by imposing stringent requirements to test the essential functions of eyesight, then the hearing. Iyong iba hindi na nakakarinig ng silbato eh.
And so I have to… You know, 10 years is too long. I like it, it’s good. But we should have, I said, in five years, we should go there for a medical makeover. Tingnan lang kung kaya pa mag…
(More to follow)