Jul 22, 2019

Last year, instead of reporting on the actual state of the country at the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte laid out his plans for 2018. A day after, he also met with Congress to discuss his list of errands for the lawmakers. (Read: Duterte’s errand list for the lawmakers according to his SONA)

Since it’s SONA season again, let’s check out what’s happened to these errands within the past year.


Photo courtesy of Dennis Jay Santos from Inquirer Mindanao

Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)

At the last SONA, the president stated that his administration “will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the Constitutional framework of our country,” and that he would ratify the law as soon as possible.

Good news on this front: After the historic plebiscite on Jan. 21 where residents of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Cotabato City voted in favor of the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), BOL was ratified on Jan. 25. This effectively means that BARMM will replace ARMM as the new entity presiding over Muslim Mindanao. (Read: What’s next for Mindanao and Cotabato City after the historic BOL plebiscite?)

Currently, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be taking charge of BARMM until the first elections in 2022. The BTA is at present being led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as part of the peace talks discussed between the MILF and the government. (Read: To these women in MILF, peace and security means reclaiming their rights)

Rice tariffication

“On top of the agenda to lower the price of rice, we need to switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported more freely. This will give us additional resources for our farmers, reduce the price of rice by up to 7 pesos per kilo, and lower inflation significantly. I ask Congress to prioritize this crucial reform, which I have certified as urgent today.”

This was fulfilled on Feb. 14 when the president signed the rice tariffication law. However, industry experts have said that the tariff may actually have adverse effects on the local farmers and their income.

Universal Healthcare Bill

“We shall pool all our resources for health services under the [PhilHealth]; institutionalize primary care as a prerequisite to access a higher level of healthcare, and supplement human resource gaps of the LGUs through a National Health Workforce Support System.

“These will ensure that every Filipino [family] gets the appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness.

“To this end, I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by Former Representative Harry Roque.”

Thankfully, this was fulfilled in Feb. 20 when the president signed into law the  Universal Health Care Act.



Photo courtesy of Edwin Bacasmas from Inquirer.net


The president categorically said that he was joining the many “voices in asking Congress to pass legislation ending the practice of contractualization once and for all.” However, the anti-endo bill has still been left unsigned.

Even if President Duterte doesn’t sign it, as long as he doesn’t veto the bill and send it back to the Congress, the bill will lapse into law by Jul. 27.

Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund

“Our farmers, especially our coconut farmers, form a significant part of the basic sectors of society,” President Duterte said at the 2018 SONA, urging lawmakers to “pass at the soonest possible time the bill establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund.” However, he himself vetoed two bills on Feb. 15 that would’ve formed a trust fund for the coconut farmers. As of May 27, the House of Representatives have approved the refiled bill.

National Land Use Act

“I, therefore, urge the Senate to urgently pass the National Land Use Act to put in place a national land use policy that will address our competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses, and environmental conservation,” the president stated.

So far, all of the five proposed national land use bills remain pending at the Senate.

A law creating the Department of Disaster Management

“(The Department of Disaster Management is) an inter-agency crafted and a high-priority measure aimed at genuinely strengthening our country’s capacity for [resilience] to natural disasters. I fervently appeal to Congress to pass this bill with utmost urgency.”

Like the five national land use bills, a total of five bills (two were already filed before the 2018 SONA) that would create the disaster management inter-agency have not moved past the Senate.


“Package 2 (of the TRAIN law) will lower corporate income taxes, especially for our small businesses. Lower taxes mean they will have more money to invest and create more jobs. More than 99 percent of our businesses are micro, small, or medium enterprises (MSME) and employ around 65 percent of our workers. The enactment of the Package 2 is what stands between today and millions of jobs in the near future.”

Unfortunately, Package 2 of the TRAIN law was not signed by the government.  Called the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) bill, “the measure failed to reach the bicameral conference committee in Congress.”



Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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