AS PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is set to deliver his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, July 26, 2021, local business leaders would like to hear concrete plans on how to spur the economy amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said he would like the government to announce more economic revival programs and concrete solutions to lower the cost of power.
His counterpart in Mandaue City, Steven Yu, said the Duterte administration needs to support the recovery through accommodative policies and lift quarantine restrictions.
Yu said the President has to deal with the health situation by institutionalizing the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate, adding health care capacities and capabilities, vaccinating and attaining herd immunity by the end of the year and preparing booster shots.
“He also has to encourage vaccination through incentives. He may give more privileges to the vaccinated and he has to tackle climate resiliency and disaster relief, especially with the Taal unrest and the numerous climate disturbances expected each year,” he said.
Filipino Cebuano Business Club chairman Rey Calooy, for his part, said he is bothered by the debt-to-gross domestic ratio at 60 percent. Calooy said this could downgrade the country’s credit ratings.
“The high debt is already a risk to the Philippine economy. The country’s outlook was downgraded by Fitch,” he said.
Fitch Ratings is an international debt watcher and recently announced that it affirmed the country’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating at “BBB” and revised the outlook to negative from stable.
Calooy said the ongoing economic situation where the possibility of another lockdown remains might hurt businesses already reeling from the continuous effects of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Ryv Rayla, a political science professor at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, believes Duterte’s Sona will most likely be an affirmation of the so-called achievements of his administration to help set the perception of people towards a favorable view of his chosen successor.
Rayla said the President should tackle issues that are vital for everyone in the present like economic recovery, as well the vaccination efforts of different regions in the country.
For veteran Cebuano lawyer and Liberal Party Cebu chapter spokesman Democrito Barcenas, Duterte’s last Sona should have a heavy impact on the nation as it is supposed to be a summation of the achievements of his administration.
He, however, said he expects “nothing” from Duterte’s last Sona.
“It would be more of the same broken promises. As an ordinary citizen, candidly, I see no hope that what Duterte had not solved in five years could be solved in his remaining months,” he said.
Barcenas said he would like the President to tackle the escalating pandemic, lack of needed vaccines, poverty, rising unemployment and unchecked corruption in high places, among others, during the Sona.
The Sona is a constitutional obligation. Article 7, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution states that “the President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.”
The regular session of Congress, as prescribed by Article 6, Section 15 of the Constitution, is convened “once every year on the fourth Monday of July.”
The Congress is the country’s legislative branch—Senate is the upper house, while the House of Representatives is lower chamber. (JOB, WBS)