MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) may have been well applauded, but for some of his critics and allies alike, it left a lot to be desired.
For the first time, street allies of the Makabayan bloc in Congress who usually held protests for the SONA were actually allowed inside the President's extension office in the Batasang Pambansa, the presidential legislative liaison office after the speech.
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The bloc on Tuesday held a press conference where they welcomed the President's pronouncements on the unilateral ceasefire with the New People's Army (NPA).
"Dagdag na reserve ito sa goodwill and good faith for the conduct of the talks," said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, adding that freeing all political prisoners would be an additional goodwill measure.
"Nais din natin na kadikit ng ceasefire, masama sa full text ng ceasefire, yung immediate release ng political prisoners," Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.
Elago also said this should be accompanied by a pullout of state forces in Lumad areas.
According to Zarate, Duterte assured them the military and police will pullout from Lumad areas within earshot of the police and military hierarchy.
Elago, however, said the President failed to tackle his plans for education in his first SONA.
"Kahapon nabitin, hindi na halos natalakay ang plano ng administrasyon sa edukasyon. Walang sinasabi sa K-12, rising cost of education," she said. "Nandiyan din sinabi na palakasin ang ROTC. Di ibig sabihin dapat gawing mandatory ROTC. Nakita natin yan nagiging abuse."
Anakbayan President Vencer Crisostomo added Duterte made no mention of land reform and contractualization issues. "Baka nakalimutan ng speechwriter o baka nawala sa freestyling," he said.
He also sought clarity on the policies concerning human rights. "Nababahala kami na yung ilang pahayag sa human rights baka ma-misconstrue na suporta... Dapat magkaroon ng mas malinaw na pahayag."
"Itong kampanya sa droga malinaw naman ang aming tayo diyan. There's no compromise sa usapin ng due process, usapin ng pagrespeto sa human rights ng mamamayan. Kaya nga ating tinitignan diyan itong liderato ng PNP, dapat tingnan nila," Zarate added.
READ: Duterte: Human rights not an excuse to destroy country
The bloc also pointed out that the SONA failed to address general economic policies especially since the President said previous macroeconomic policies will be retained. The bloc pointed out those same policies led to non-inclusive economic growth.
Zarate said the President also failed to sufficiently tackle his plan for solving the traffic.
"Yun magiging hamon sa Kongreso dahil hamon sa metro ay nakakasakal na. Kung emergency powers sinusulong, kami sa Makabayan aaralin yan. Kami naman we understand grabe na ang problema ng trapiko," he said.
He also noted passing the freedom of information (FOI) bill will be a challenge. The Executive already issued an executive order for the FOI concerning the executive branch of government.
"This is a challenge to Congress. Inunahan na ng Executive. Gusto natin ng mas masaklaw... Ang FOI isang effective tool sa kampanya ng transparency and accountability," said Zarate.
Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, who is vying to be minority leader, likewise wants further clarity on the proposals for emergency powers to address traffic and the proposal for Charter change.
"Emergency powers, that's one. We want to know what that precisely means and how it can really help solve the traffic problem," he said.
Concerning the FOI, Baguilat said he would have wanted Duterte to push for its passage in Congress. "Without presidential push for FOI, mahihirapan pa rin ito."
DEATH PENALTY, CRIMINAL LIABILITY
Baguilat, meanwhile, is wondering what happened to the proposals for the reimposition of the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability.
Senator Leila de Lima on ANC also expressed reservations on Duterte's statements on human rights. "I don't think human rights should be sacrificed in the campaign versus illegal drugs," she said.
Speaking to DZMM, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez went through the legislative agenda which included items Duterte skipped in the SONA, like lowering the age of criminal liability and reimposing the death penalty for heinous crimes.
READ: Death penalty is for retribution: Duterte
"Nakalagay naman yan sa provision ng Constitution na yung death penalty pwede lang for heinous crimes. So ngayon i-define natin what are these heinous crimes, so dun lang mag-aapply ang death penalty. Sa House of Representatives, sisikapin ko na siguro pinakamatagal na one year mailalabas natin yan. Ang kagandahan sa demokrasya ay pwede tayong mag-debate, pero sa dulo ay kung sino ang may mayorya, yun pa rin ang mananaig," he said.
Alvarez also amplified the proposal to simplify taxation and lower income taxes.
"Yung tax rates natin napakataas, sa buong Asya tayo pinakamataas. Hindi naman kailangang itaas yan basta magbayad lahat at saka napupunta talaga sa gobyerno," he explained.
Alvarez also wants to require congressional franchises for mining.
"Sabi ko kesa kung sino-sino ang mag-aaward, mabuti na yung franchise eh dumaan sa Kongreso. Meron namang committee on oversight yung Congress na halimbawa hindi mo maumpisahan yan within a period of time tapos hindi na nag-comply sa guidelines yung strict implementation to protect yung kalikasan, eh isasara agad. Kailangan pahirapan natin yung pagbigay ng mining permit," he said.