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Abandoned state

For the past five years, we have seen how our dream of finally achieving change in this country has slowly slipped away from our hands. Even the smallest hope some of us had eventually faded by increments. Back in 2016, right before the national elections, we were repeatedly promised that “change is coming” just like what traditional politicians would say—but now it is more like a scam being shoved down our throats.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to deliver his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, where we expect to hear another round of false promises, trying to pass the blame antics, and derogatory remarks pointed toward critics. All of these are expected but what Filipinos really want to hear are his plans to address looming problems in the country.

To emphasize, SONAs are regarded as the achievement checkpoints of a country’s leader every year wherein he or she looks back on the projects and progress made. During his address last year, we witnessed an unclear scheme with regards to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and a tanking economy, emphasizing the Duterte administration’s lack of urgency when it comes to the most serious matters.

The ongoing rhetoric that our President is employing, however, keeps on making Filipinos suffer. In May, it was reported that 3.73 million remain jobless although the employment rate significantly increased. This is one of the many global impacts the pandemic has left on us, and yet the government is still slow in acting upon it.

Back then, we would always find hope when a new leader was proclaimed and after hearing their plans for the country’s future. Five years ago, many believed that change would finally come. After numerous presidents, the Philippines might be able to step on its own foot again—with better policies that will surely cater to the needs of the masses. It was also five years ago when the leader that we have right now deceived us when he portrayed himself as a father of Filipinos.

Apart from his rowdy behavior in front of the media, his lackluster stance on territorial disputes—specifically on the West Philippine Sea—is a clear sign that his words are always substantiated by the absence of actions. This kind of effort is not what our country and fellow countrymen deserve. Indeed, we
deserve more than just false promises and a lack of political will to assert diplomatic jurisdictions.

The leader we have right now is supposed to lead our country; not be dictated and held by a string by another country’s leader. His current actions set the stone for future problems as priorities keep shifting from one problem to another, sometimes with band-aid solutions while some are left completely ignored. Perhaps some people still cling to the change he promised, somehow lured by the numerous credit-grabbing instances the current administration has committed. Among these include the Skyway Stage 3 project, Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange, and the LRT-2 East Extension Project—all original projects that were greenlit by administrations before him.

While the government continues to capitalize on ways they can gain support from the public, let us remind ourselves how the government mishandled key issues in the country that had rippled effects on the people. Our country continues to drown in international debt due to mishandling of funds, especially when a crisis hits the country. It might not be felt yet, but a scarring effect awaits us Filipinos.

With one more year in Malacañang, can President Duterte still steer our country into fine shores? It seems vague and unlikely. Is there still a need to hear everything that comes from our foul-mouthed leader?

Seeking change is not wrong. But a change in leadership, now more than ever, would be more appropriate to really experience meaningful change. I am sure we have had enough. In a few weeks, we will know if the state of the nation is really addressed—or rather, abandoned.

By Ian Kevin Castro

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