Various sectors of society raised mixed expectations from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 27.
“I hope President Duterte can articulate a clear strategy for opening up the economy in the light of the restrictions,” said former ambassador Benedict Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Francis Chua, former special trade envoy to China, said he would like to listen to Duterte’s agenda for the next two years as well as the legacy that he would leave behind.
He said he wants to hear “a candid assessment” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“How will the government balance the need of the economy and the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” said Chua.
He said the president should also disclose what he expects from the private sector to address the growing rate of unemployment in the country.
“President Duterte should also air his expectations from financial institutions and how to help the large borrowers,” said Chua.
He expressed optimism that the government will have enough resources to buy vaccines for everyone if it becomes available.
Public health advocate Dr. Tony Leachon said Duterte should focus on health and the economy in his report to the nation.
“Solving these two major issues will define President Duterte’s presidency and legacy as an authentic leader,” he said.
Leachon said the president should offer solutions to the COVID-19 crisis while reopening the economy.
He suggested a change in leadership in the Health department and in the task force in charge of emerging infectious diseases, and action plans that will include testing, isolation and contact tracing of those who might have contracted the virus.
“Once these measures have been accomplished, President Duterte can reopen the economy and partner with the business sector and ultimately regain the trust and confidence of the people,” said Leachon.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said he expects the chief executive to speak about problems faced by the Filipino people.
“I hope he can give concrete and doable solutions to these concerns,” said the prelate.
Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said he does not expect the president to say “anything meaningful because he has limited his audience to just a handful, his ‘choir.’”
Community leader and teacher Jalilah Sapiin said she hopes Duterte will speak of concrete plans to address the prevailing health crisis.
“I want to hear his opinion on the appeal of the Bangsamoro regarding the Anti-Terror Law because it is an insult to the peace process that we aimed to achieve in our region,” she said.
She added that the people of Mindanao have been waiting for the Compensation Bill to pass in Congress and that they are “still waiting for the true Marawi rehabilitation.”
“When will we go home? They better focus on delivering basic social services to the people,” she said.