by ARTHUR N. APOSTOL
UST STUDENT councils called for the government’s accountability over its atrocities and urged the Thomasian community to “never forget what the administration has wrought” in a unity statement released Tuesday after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In the statement, the student councils criticized Duterte’s rule, stating that the country changed for the worse during his term.
“With its most famous slogan “Change is coming,” the country has indeed changed, for worse, in the past five years under a tyrannical administration,” the councils wrote.
They furthered that the administration’s priority turned into violence by starting a brutal and tiring war against the poor, the indigenous people, the oppressed, and exploited Filipinos within the first years of Duterte’s term in office.
Most Filipinos expected the President’s address to focus on pandemic response but were left disappointed as it took around two hours for Duterte to mention anything about the global health crisis.
“The country’s performance sank among countries with poor and dreadful pandemic responses. The effects of the administration’s failure multiplied to larger problems, with cases continuously rising, and our healthcare system on the brink of collapse by having one of the longest lockdowns in world history,” the councils said.
“These acts reflected the situation of our economy, with unemployment and underemployment on the rise, businesses struggling to stay afloat, and a looming poverty rate. The administration’s poor pandemic response also affected the situation of the education sector, prompting the rise of out-of-school youth, and the devastating quality of education – the lifeblood of our nation’s future,” they added.
Meanwhile, Duterte in his SONA vowed to create more jobs through a 2021 to 2022 National Employment Recovery Strategy, to pass a law for online government processes and transactions, and to establish the country’s first Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
The statement also put forward the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s “lies” and “inaccurate intelligence team” and recalled its blatant “red-tagging” of different groups and individuals.
Duterte, however, lauded the task force in his address and said that it helped the government in its efforts to build safe and conflict-resilient barangays.
The councils then enumerated the Rice Tariffication Law, the TRAIN Law, the government’s failure to end contractualization, and the controversial closure of the media conglomerate ABS-CBN by the government, which they have stated are “some of the horrible and fascist policies the administration either pursued, failed to pursue, or promulgated.”
They also urged the Thomasian community to preserve the country’s democracy and sovereignty.
Duterte’s SONA was also criticized by different progressive groups, individuals, and the opposition.
“Unang-una, hindi po namin inaasahan na pupurihin ng oposisyon ang SONA. Kayo naman, hindi naman bago ang SONA. Wala namang pumupuri talaga sa SONA kapag ikaw ay nasa hanay ng oposisyon. Siyempre, eh wala kang gagawin kung hindi ookrayin iyong sinabi ng Presidente dahil oposisyon ka ‘no. Eh inaasahan na po natin iyan,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during his weekly address on Tuesday, addressing the critics.
Roque also addressed the criticisms about the President’s frequent mentioning of his brutal drug war, stating that there is nothing wrong with what Duterte said as he needed to report on his promise to the public. F