Andrea Eleanor Cabaron
The state of the nation address, delivered in its second year by President "Bong-Bong" Marcos Jr. Photo courtesy of The Summit Express.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., now in his second year of being The Philippine President, delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on July 24
The State of the Nation Address started at 4 p.m., President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reported a rundown on the first year of his term and the administration’s priority measures for the future.
Marcos announced a 7.6% growth in the Philippines' economy in 2022, marking the highest growth rate in 46 years.
Stressing the importance of road network plans, such as the Luzon Spine Expressway Network Program and the Mega-Bridge Program, which will connect Ilocos to Bicol, he also announced several railway projects, including the southern leg of the North-South Commuter Railway System.
The controversial Maharlika Fund will be used for high-impact investments, with the gains reinvested into the country's economic well-being.
Renewable energy is being promoted, with a goal of providing a 35% share in the power mix by 2030 and 50% by 2040. The Unified National Grid will enable more efficient transfers and competitive electricity pricing. However, 68 grid connections are delayed, and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is conducting a performance review.
In the tourism sector, Marcos claims the country has received 3 million international visitors from January to June, achieving 62% of its 4.8-million target. He emphasized the need for an enabling business environment, peace and order, and the rule of law to solidify the country's reputation as an attractive investment destination.
In terms of internet connectivity, Marcos cited the country's fixed broadband speed ranking 47th among 180 countries and mobile internet speed at 83 out of 142 countries.
He also emphasized the importance of housing and urged Congress to pass a new procurement law, as the current one has not prevented major questionable contracts from being awarded to favored suppliers.
Marcos aims to boost local agricultural production through consolidation, modernization, mechanization, and value chain improvement, augmented by timely importation.
He emphasizes the importance of addressing smugglers and hoarders, the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, the Department of Water Resource Management, and climate change.
He also expressed the need for preparedness and reorganization of response teams to make them more adaptable, agile, and effective during calamities and crises.
Marcos stated the importance of learning recovery and addressing the shortage of classrooms and facilities. Pressing on the need for recalibration of the K to 10 curriculum to ensure it is relevant, responsive, and up to international standards.
Marcos also addressed Filipino seafarers' training standards, hunger and nutrition-related issues, and introduced the pilot Food Stamp Program (FSP) to supply the nutrition needs of the most food-poor Filipinos.
On health care matters, promoting the use of dialysis sessions for patients, and addressing the needs of health workers was discussed.
Marcos emphasized the desire for foreign employment to be driven by choice and reintegration into the Philippine economy. He also affirmed the deployment issue in Saudi Arabia, where 70,000 OFWs have already been deployed for employment.
Local Security and Foreign Affairs
Calling on the need for sustainable progress and a single vision for all Filipinos, Marcos praises the Bangsamoro Transition and the progress made by the BARMM, stating the former adversaries are now “partners in peace”.
The ongoing campaign against illegal drugs has shifted to community-based treatment, rehabilitation, education, and reintegration to curb drug dependence among affected citizens.
Marcos also announced the granting of amnesty to rebel returnees through community development and livelihood programs.
Placing a strong emphasis on the value of military pensions and the changeover to the new system, Marcos underlines the success of independent foreign policy, which has led to economic missions advancing national interests, peacemaking efforts, and other mutually advantageous goals.
With the potential to create 175,000 jobs, these visits have produced an estimated investment value of 3.9 trillion pesos, or 71 billion US dollars.
“Every Filipino have unanimously risen to the challenge that we have made to them to be part of the nation’s future. Handa silang maghandog ng tulong, dahil mahal nila ang kanilang kapwa-Pilipino, at mahal na mahal nila ang Pilipinas. With this in my heart, I know that the state of the nation is sound, and is improving…. Dumating na po ang Bagong Pilipinas,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated.
Meanwhile, several protesters disperse ahead of the scheduled time of Marcos’ Jr.’s SONA. From a “zumba protest” held by the teacher’s group to call for United Labor forum on legislated wage increase, and their call for salary increase in Quezon Memorial Circle at 7:00 am to being unified with National Democratic Organizations and its youth sectors converge in the Commonwealth Avenue around 11:30 am.
They share a united call: “Dagdag na sahod, kabuhayan, at pagkain sa mesa! Itigil ang karahasan! Kapakanan ng masa, hindi Maharlika!”
Street protests were also staged in places such as Bicol, Naga, Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, and Davao ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s State of the Nation Address.
In the street march, more than 500 protesters expressed their dissatisfaction over a variety of topics, including the jeepney modernization program's effect on drivers' livelihoods and the administration's handling of the financial crisis.