HOWIE SEE IT: What is the real state of the nation?

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By Atty. Howie Calleja

Today marks the fifth time President Duterte will speak on the state of our nation. What should we expect? Another attempt to portray our leadership’s response to the ongoing pandemic as heroic? Will we, once again, listen to vague aspirations of a change yet to come?

With less than 2 years remaining of this presidency, the promises made in 2016 are nowhere in sight. All that is left are jokes; with the selective application of the law being the biggest joke of all. We cannot keep hearing new promises made but must start acknowledging how many promises have not been kept.

In addressing the state of our nation, concrete plans for COVID-19 should be the number one priority of the President; a fully-detailed and implementable policy addressing health and economic revival, rather than a reliance on magic, yet to be realized vaccine. This narrative that “no one is prepared for a pandemic” is contradicted by the strong leadership of Vietnam, Thailand, and New Zealand, who have all declared victory over the virus in their respective countries.

We’ve been asked to be patient and, four months later, our goodwill and patience have allowed complacency. Dissent to the current priorities have been labeled as terrorism and the desire to slowly open up our economy has been characterized as a lack of discipline. While other countries focus on debt relief, loans to small businesses, and grants to self-employed individuals, we have only been able to approve 15% of those who have looked to our government for help. With each local business that has been forced to close it’s doors, we have not seen assistance or accountability, we have only seen deflection and backpedaling.

If there is one thing that our leader must reassure our country on, it is the job and food security during the continuation of the world’s longest lockdown. We cannot begin “heal as one” when the wounds of the Filipino are not being tended to. The prioritization of the Anti-Terror Law, ABS-CBN shut down, and now recently Charter Change are not policies that will put food on the table. Our leadership must concentrate on a united effort on what matters most to Juan dela Cruz. Otherwise, he will not wake up to the dream painted back in 2016, but rather a nightmare.