MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte should bare government's plans to address the various issues hounding the country, including the coronavirus pandemic, during his 5th State of the National Address (SONA), Manila's top prelate said Monday, hours ahead of the chief executive's speech.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, said Duterte should avoid boasting, criticizing others, or using flattery in his speech.
The SONA should instead inform the public of the COVID-19 situation in the country and the plans of government to address job losses, among other issues, amid the pandemic, he said.
"Gusto nating malaman the real score. Nasaan na ba tayo sa paglaban sa coronavirus? Nasaan na ba tayo sa pagbigay ng trabaho sa mga nawalan ng trabaho at sa mga OFW na umuuwi na walang trabaho?" Pabillo said in his Homily during the online Mass for Peace and Justice.
(We want to know the real score. Where are we on the fight against the coronavirus? Where are we in giving jobs to those who lost their jobs and to the jobless OFWs who went home?)
"Nasaan na ba tayo sa mga estudyanteng walang pang-online study? Paano ba mabubuksan ang mga business enterprises? Ano ba ang gagawin ng gobyerno para masagot ang mga problemang hinaharap ng taong bayan ngayon?" he added.
(Where are we on students without means to study online? How are we going to open business enterprises? What will government do to address the problems faced by the country?)
The bishop urged the faithful to stay informed about what is happening in the country, saying a good Christian is also a good citizen.
"Kung may pagmamahal tayo sa bayan at least man lang inaalam natin kung ano talaga ang kalagayan ng bayan [If we love our country, at least we should know its state]. We care enough to know what is happening among us now and what our elected officials are doing," he said.
Pabillo said he and the faithful would listen carefully and be criticial because "not everything that is said, even by the highest official of the land and his official spokespersons, is credible and true."
He added that the Catholic Church accepts that there are those who do not want them to speak on social issues.
Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo earlier criticized the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' pastoral letter that denounced the government's "pattern of intimidation," saying the statement violates the separation of the Church and the State.
Malacañang has said Duterte would present the country's pandemic recovery roadmap during his SONA.
The executive branch has yet to unveil the government's COVID-19 plan because officials "want to unveil it in the SONA itself and in many fora after the SONA," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.