President Rodrigo Duterte does not consider his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) as his “swan song” or final public performance, noting that he has less than a year left to continue providing Filipinos with his promise of a comfortable life amid the prevailing pandemic.
In his nearly three-hour speech, Duterte said he assumed the presidency five years ago with goals he felt were “reachable” and “doable”, taking pride in what his administration has been able to accomplish.
“To offer free education – it’s there already; the Universal Health Care, nandiyan na po (it’s there); the fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption; and the development of infrastructure, including free irrigation and other big-ticket projects, which I thought I did not have the funds to do it, but perchance, among others, they were done in my term,” he said.
He acknowledged that many other goals still need to be fulfilled, which is why he would not waste time by making regrets but working even harder.
“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,” he added.
Duterte said he knew well that steering the nation towards a comfortable life for all Filipinos would not be easy, describing his experience as “challenging and humbling.”
He admitted sometimes feeling like a “prisoner”, having to be guarded by his close-in security and having to read and sign piles of documents every day.
“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,” he said.
However, the President said his awareness of the gravity of the country’s problems was what drove him to hasten the implementation of changes he believed the country “needed.”
“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,” he said.
Despite criticism and attacks, he said his determination was never dampened knowing that his job as president is not yet over.
“Looking forward, today is my last state of the nation address but this is by no means my swan song. I shall never cease to implore Congress to pass vital and critical legislation, as well as to push the entire government to ensure nothing less than the full recovery and revitalization of our country. But to do this, it is necessary for us to first overcome the crippling fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that was caused by the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) virus,” he said.
He also vowed to continue to push for landmark reforms till the last day of his term.