By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo said she was “happy” with some parts of President Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address, but she found his report to the nation still lacking on substantial issues.
Robredo, leader of the opposition, had wanted to hear what Duterte had to say about the rising inflation under his administration, status of Marawi rehabilitation, and the social mitigating measures of the tax reform law.
The Vice President also said Duterte did not mention in his SONA how he would defend the West Philippine Sea given his remarks he would not waver in protecting the country’s interest in the disputed area.
“Iyong discussion sa inflation, to a large part nag-concentrate lang sa mga rice cartels, pero walang discussion masyado kung ano pa ba iyong ibang factors na nag-contribute sa inflation (The discussion on inflation, to a large part only concentrated on the rice cartels, but there wasn’t much discussion on the other factors that contributed to the inflation.),” she told reporters.
“Hinihintay sana natin iyong status ng rehabilitation ng Marawi. Maraming nag-aabang doon; hindi siya diniscuss. Hinihintay natin iyong mga plano sa susunod na… sa mga hakbang na gagawin ng pamahalaan (We were waiting about the status of the rehabilitation of Marawi. Many people were waiting for that; it was not discussed. We were waiting for the next…steps of the government.),” said Robredo.
Robredo, who served briefly as housing czar in his Cabinet, found Duterte’s SONA lacking for his failure to mention the government’s plan to mitigate the impact of the tax reform law after the Chief Executive defended the measure.
“We know that this is contributory to inflation. We know the big target for those who will be given Unconditional Cash Transfer, but until now they have not yet been given,” she said in Filipino.
“The people who have not received them are those who suffer the effects of the TRAIN Law since first half of the year until now, we are already into the second half, they have not received it,” Robredo added.
“The Pantawid Pasada program has not been rolled out even as the people are now going through all the problems brought by the high fuel prices. There were so many others,” she said.
The Vice President gave her thoughts about Duterte’s report to the nation Tuesday night when asked on the sidelines of a book launch in Ateneo De Manila University.
Robredo herself attended Duterte’s latest SONA, despite her shaky relationship with the President.
The President’s third SONA lasted about 50 minutes and, by far, the shortest he has delivered in office.
The Vice President disagreed with Duterte on some issues in his address to the nation, among which was his statement on human rights.
“Iyong karapatang mabuhay, iyon iyong pinaka-pangunahing karapatang pantao… para sabihin na pinapahalagahan iyong human life pero iyong human rights hindi, mali yata iyon (The right to life is the main human right…To say you value human life, but not human rights, that’s wrong.),” she said.
While Duterte fell short to address some pressing issues, Robredo was glad that the President pushed for the timely passage of priority bills on national land use policy, coconut levy trust fund, and workers’ right to security of tenure.
“We are happy that they were finally given attention and we are praying that our Congress will prioritize the plea of our President,” she said.