President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa on Monay July 25, on top of overwhelming calls for concrete plans on the nation’s economic and health crises.
In his speech that spanned over an hour, Marcos headlined with his economic and agricultural plans, while health was mentioned 25 minutes into the address.
Here are the highlights of his speech:
As Filipinos continue to suffer from rising inflation, Marcos orders the government to realign its expenditure priorities and to implement a “sound fiscal management.”
- Our tax system will be adjusted in order to catch up with the rapid developments of the digital economy, including the imposition of value-added tax on digital service providers.
- Tax compliance procedures will be simplified to promote ease of paying taxes.
- Medium-term macroeconomic and fiscal targets: 6.5 to 7.5% real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022; 9% or single-digit poverty rate by 2028; and less than 60% national government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025.
- The average inflation for 2022 is projected to range from 4.5% to 5.5%. It is slightly adjusted to 2.5 to 4.5% in 2023, and is seen to return to the target range of 2% to 4% by 2024 until 2028.
- The Philippine peso is projected to average between P51 to P53 per US dollar in 2022 and P51 to P55 per US dollar from 2023 onwards.
Marcos, who also acts as agriculture secretary, proposed his plans to support farmers by imposing a “one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments.”
- Ang produksyon ng farm inputs o mga kakailanganin ng mga magsasaka sa pagpapalago ng kanilang sakahan ay ating i-aayon sa mga hamong dala ng climate change at global warming.
- Ang mga pautang at financial assistance sa mga magbubukid at mangingisda ay magiging institusyon at patakaran ng aking administrasyon.
- Ipaparayoridad natin ang modernisasyon ng sakahan sa pamamagitan ng makabagong teknolohiya para sa mga magsasaka.
- Maging ang post production at processing at susuportahan ng pamahalaan. Gagawa tayo ng national network ng farm to market growth para mas mabilis na mailakbay ng mga magsasaka ang kanilang mga produkto sa pamilihan.
- Ang agrarian reform program ay dapat magpatuloy. I intend to issue an Executive Order to impose a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments.
- The condonation of the existing agrarian reform will cover P58.125 billion, benefiting 654,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and involving a total of 18 million hectares of awarded lands.
Tourism, as a huge economic driver, is among the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic. To recuperate, Marcos pushed to promote both famous and undiscovered tourist spots in the country by improving roads and airports.
- To boost our tourism industry, we will first and foremost make basic developments such as road improvements for easier access to tourism spots. We will also upgrade our airports and create more international airports to help decongest the bottleneck at the Manila International Airport.
- We require an institutionalized creative industry that will advance the interests of its stakeholders – sila na nagbibigay ng kaluluwa at pagkakilanlan sa ating pagka-Pilipino. Protektahan natin sila.
With the country being susceptible to calamities, Marcos laid out plans to mitigate the impact of disasters on vulnerable sectors in calamity-prone areas.
- Ang mga field office DSWD ay inatasan na maagang maglagak ng family food packs at non-food essentials sa mga [local government units], bago pa man manalasa ang anumang kalamidad.
- Pagtitibayin pa natin ang komprehensibong programang ‘Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations’ (AICS) para maiparating ang tulong sa mas maraming biktima.
- Pag-ibayuhin pa ang pagrepaso ng listahan [ng Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program o 4Ps] upang maitutok ang pamimigay ng sapat na ayuda sa mga lubos na nangangailangang pamilya.
- Titiyakin natin na sapat ang pondo sa halos 70 residential care centers at pitong non-residential care centers para sa vulnerable sectors at persons with disabilities.
Filipinos can no longer afford another lockdown, Marcos said, amid the uptick in the country’s COVID-19 cases. A health secretary to helm the pandemic response has also yet to be named nearly a month into the Marcos administration.
- Hindi na natin kakayanin ang isa pang lockdown.
- Patuloy din ang ating vaccine booster rollout para sa ating pangkalahatang depensa [kontra COVID-19].
- Mananatili muna sa ngayon ang Alert Level System natin. Pinapag-aralan natin ang ibang paraan ng klasipikasyon.
- Upang mailapit natin ang health care system sa taumbayan nang hindi sila kailangang pumunta sa sentro ng kanilang bayan, lalawigan o rehiyon, ay maglalagay tayo ng mga clinic at Rural Health Unit.
Later into his speech, Marcos also bared the Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as part of his priority legislation, which was also pushed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.
- In the educational sector, I believe it is time for our children to return to full face-to-face classes once again.
- The condition and availability of school rooms for our students must also be addressed, again, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways.
- We are giving [the K to 12 program] a careful review, and all necessary inputs and points of view are now being considered.
- Children now need connectivity to the internet; they need devices to use; they need computers and educational tools to participate fully in the digital community here and abroad.
- We must do better in the international rankings especially when it comes to the so-called STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
With the rapid technological advancements taking place, Marcos hoped to attain universal connectivity across the country through his National Broadband Plan.
- The mission of our Department of Information and Communications Technology is to identify and utilize these innovations to improve governance.
- The voluminous records stored in the government warehouses and archives have to be digitized. Those that are already stored in various inventories of data should be harmonized and shared across departments and agencies.
- We expect to issue 30 million physical IDs and 20 million digital IDs by the end of the year. The target is to accomplish the issuance of about 92 million IDs by the middle of next year.
Marcos appeared keen to follow the footsteps of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte as he vowed to maintain high infrastructure spending.
- I will not suspend any of the ongoing projects as those have already been shown to be of benefit to the public that they serve.
- Infrastructure development spending will be sustained at 5% to 6% of the GDP.
- We will also continue to improve our roads and transportation systems in key cities throughout the country.
As part of his plans to adopt renewable energy, he again backed the revival of nuclear power plants, which green groups have previously flagged to be costly and damaging to the environment.
- We must build new power plants.
- In the move to lowering our carbon footprint caused by energy production, our advancement to renewables will have a lead time.
- I believe also it is time to re-examine our strategy towards building nuclear power plants in the Philippines.
In response to the worsening climate crisis, Marcos gave platitudes about “disaster-proof planning” communities but did not further elaborate on enforcing environmental laws.
- The use of renewable energy is at the top of our climate agenda. We will increase our use of renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power, solar, and wind.
- We will also look into the precarious fresh water supply situation in the country, especially in our urban areas.
- The Philippines has excellent laws on the environment, but we have to guarantee that these laws are properly enforced.
- Companies who exploit our natural resources must follow the law.
Marcos banked on the newly-set up Department of Migrant Workers in ensuring the welfare and employment of Filipinos abroad. He also pushed for digital empowerment among OFWs and the eradication of all forms of red tape.
- Tinatawagan ko rin ang Department of Foreign Affairs na makipagtulungan sa Department of Migrant Workers na tiyaking ang lahat ng mga diplomatic post ay tutulong na agarang maibalik sa trabaho ang mga ating mga Overseas Filipino workers na nawalan ng hanapbuhay nitong nakalipas na mga taon.
- We shall automate the verification of contracts and issue secure Overseas Employment Certifications (OEC) that you can keep on your smartphone.
- Mula sa tatlong buwan ay gagawin na lamang nating tatlong linggo para sa isang dayuhang employer na i-proseso ang mga papeles ng Filipinong nais nitong kunin bilang empleyado.
While Marcos assured he will not yield Filipino territory to foreign powers, he did not make direct mentions of the West Philippine Sea issue.
- I will not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.
- The Philippines has always been open and welcoming to all our foreign friends and visitors. That is our world view, and that is our culture.
The president also listed 19 priority bills for the incoming Congress, including the Budget Modernization Bill, Internet Transaction Act and the National Defense Act, among others.