President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday delivered his first State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress, where he proposed measures and strategies to address key issues on the economy, public health, education, social welfare, among others.
Marcos' first SONA took place just around three weeks after his inauguration as the 17th President of the Philippines and the first chief executive in more than 30 years to receive a majority mandate from the Filipino people.
Delivered every fourth Monday of July before a joint session of Congress, the SONA outlines the Philippine president's plans and programs for his next 12 months in office. The statements they make and the orders they give will form part of the government’s priorities to address the most pressing issues of the country.
Here are the highlights of Marcos' first SONA:
- At 5:18 p.m., Marcos ended his speech after one hour and 13 minutes: "We will endure. Let our Filipino spirit forever remain undimmed. I know this in my mind. I know this in my heart. I know this in my very soul. The state of the nation is sound."
- Marcos seeks to mandate ROTC and NSTP again in senior high school.
- Marcos asked Congress to pass the National Land Use Act, and the National Defense Act.
- Marcos also called for the establishment of the Medical Reserve Corps, the creation of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Virology Institute of the Philippines, and the Department of Water Resources.
- Marcos proposed the Internet Transaction Act or E-Commerce Law, which aims to ensure that consumer rights and data privacy are protected in online commercial activities.
- Marcos asked Congress to passed the proposed Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act that seeks to reform the taxation of capital income and financial services, and the E-Government Act.
- He also proposed the Budget Modernization Bill that seeks to institutionalize the cash-based budgeting system to help ensure that every peso will be spent for actual projects.
- Marcos proposed the National Government Rightsizing Program which seeks to "enhance the government's institutional capacity to perform its mandate and to provide better services while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources."
- Marcos said the Philippines will be a "good neighbor" to other countries that will always look for ways to collaborate, but "we will stand firm in our independent foreign policy with the national interest as our primordial guide."
- On foreign policy, Marcos said: "I will not preside over any process that will abandon even one square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power."
- "Sa ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa, you deserve a home in the government. Not only for the money that you send home but you are not called tools of the economy. You deserve it for your sacrifices for our country and your perseverance and excellence in the global arena," Marcos said.
- "Mula sa tatlong buwan ay gagawin na lang nating tatlong linggo para sa isang dayuhang employer na maiproseso ang papeles ng Pilipinong nais nitong kunin bilang empleyado," Marcos said.
- On OFW welfare, Marcos asked the DFA to help the Department of Migrant Workers to ensure that all Philippine diplomatic posts will help in restoring the jobs of migrant workers who lost their jobs in recent years.
- "There is no question that the preservation of the environment is the preservation of life. If we cannot mitigate climate change, all our plans for the economy, for our future will be for naught," Marcos said.
- Marcos opened the possibility of building nuclear powerplants in the country: "I believe it is time also to reexamine our strategy towards building nuclear powerplants in the Philippines. We will comply of course with the International Atomic Energy Agency regulation for nuclear powerplants as they have been strengthened after Fukushima."
- On energy, Marcos said: "We must build new powerplants."
- Railway projects will continue under Marcos' administration to improve the country's transportation system, he said. "My order to the DOTr is simple: full speed ahead."
- "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," Marcos said, adding that infrastructure development spending will be sustained at 5% to 6% of GDP.
- On infrastructure: "The infrastructure program of the Duterte administration must not only continue but wherever possible be expanded," Marcos said.
- Marcos targets to issue more national IDs for Filipinos: "We expect to issue 30 million physical IDs and 20 million digital IDs by the end of this year. The target is to accomplish the issuance of about 92 million IDs by the middle of next year."
- "The question of our medium of instruction must be continuously reexamined to maintain that advantage that we have established as an English speaking people," Marcos said.
- The poor quality of teaching materials must end, Marcos said. "Our children must always be equipped with the best that we can provide. Ang edukasyon ang tangi nating pamana sa ating mga anak na hindi mawawaldas."
- "We are instituting a program of refresher courses and retraining for our teachers so they can stay abreast of the rapid growth in technology especially in this post-pandemic world."
- On education: "I believe it is time for our children to return to face-to-face classes," Marcos said, reiterating that booster shots must be rolled out to prepare for this scenario.
- To bring down the cost of medicines, Marcos asked the Philippine Competition Commission to ensure pharmaceutical companies are on equal footing.
- Marcos reiterated that the current COVID-19 alert level systems will stay for now.
- Marcos said there will be no more lockdowns under his term: "Dapat natin balansehin nang maayos ang kalusugan ng mamamayan sa isang banda at ang ekonomiya naman sa kabilang banda."
- On solo parents, Marcos said: "Pagtitibayin natin ang programa sa Violence Against Women and Children, kabilang na ang counselling sa mga biktima."
- Marcos said the provision of assistance to crisis victims will be made easier:
"Gagawin nating simple ang proseso ng paghingi at pagparating ng tulong. Dahil hindi naman dapat dadagdagan pa ang hirap na nararanasan ng ating mamamayan."
- On social welfare: "Utos ko sa DSWD ang mabilis na pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng mga biktima ng kalamidad at iba't ibang krisis," Marcos said.
- "To foster the Filipino brand is to spark our sense of pride and reaffirm our strong sense of identity. It is time to welcome the rest of the world with an enhanced Filipino brand that is unique, attractive and creative," Marcos said.
- To boost the tourism industry, Marcos said the government will make road improvements for easier access to tourism spots, upgrade airports and create more international airports.
- Pieces of lands will also be given to graduates of agriculture who are landless, Marcos said, stressing the need to improve the country's agriculture sector.
- Marcos said some 52,000 hectares of unused agricultural lands of the government will be distributed to landless war veterans, landless surviving spouse and orphans of war veterans, landless retirees of AFP and PNP.
- "Congress must also pass a law that would emancipate the agrarian reform beneficiaries from the agrarian reform debt burden," Marcos said.
- On agrarian reform, Marcos said he would issue an executive order to impose a one-year moratorium on the payment of land amortization and interest payments.
- "Gagawa tayo ng mga paraan para maramdaman ng mga mamimili ang pagluluwag ng presyo ng mga produktong pagkain sa kayang halaga gaya ng muling pagbuhay ng mga Kadiwa Center," Marcos said.
- The government will establish a network of farm-to-market roads to help make the transport of goods faster, Marcos said.
- "Ang mga pautang at financial assistance sa mga magbubukid at mangingisda ay magiging institusyon at patakaran ng aking administrasyon," Marcos said, adding that the modernization of farming lands will be prioritized.
- "Magbibigay tayo ng pautang habang mas ilalapit natin sa sektor ng agrikultura ang hindi gaanong mahal na farm inputs na bibilhin nang bulto ng gobyerno," Marcos said.
- In terms of addressing food supply, Marcos reported that the DA has finalized its decision to increase the production of basic agricultural products in the next season.
- Marcos said he has instructed NEDA to work on the Philippine Development Plan for 2023 to 2028 and to submit the complete blueprint and progress not later than year-end.
- "The economy is expected to grow by 6.5% to 7.5% this year as we continue to reopen the economy while considering the recent external developments," Marcos said.
- Marcos aims to bring the country to upper middle income status by 2024.
- Marcos also said the tax system will also be adjusted to include the imposition of value added tax on digital services, which will generate about P11.7 billion in 2023.
- "Our country must become an investment destination, capitalizing on the corporate recovery and tax incentives for enterprises through the CREATE Law, and economic liberalization law such as the Public Service Act and the Foreign Investments Act."
- Marcos talked about his economic reforms at the beginning of his speech: "we will implement a sound fiscal management. Tax administration reforms will be put in place to increase revenue collection. Expenditure priorities will be realigned and spending efficiency will be improved to immediately address the economic scarring arising from the effects of COVID-19 and also to prepare for future shocks."
- Marcos began his speech at exactly 4:05 p.m. by greeting former presidents, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of his family.
- At 4:00 p.m., the joint session of Congress was called to order.
- At 3:57 p.m., Marcos entered the Plenary Hall of the Batasang Pambansa complex to deliver his SONA.
- Upon arriving at the Batasang Pambansa, Marcos was met by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
- At 3:33 p.m. via helicopter, Marcos arrived at the Batasang Pambansa complex where he will deliver his SONA.