President Rodrigo Duterte delivering his 2019 State of the Nation Address (screengrab from PCOO video)

Senators are expecting President Rodrigo Duterte to report the true state of the nation in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) and present a concrete plan in addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic rather than resort to his usual rhetoric and expletive laden speeches.

Senate president pro-tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement said he believes the “people are not looking forward to the soaring oratory, the poetry of a traditional SONA.”

“They are not even interested in bold strokes. What they want to hear is the to-do list in a wartime SONA that will spell out the battle plan against the pandemic,” he said.

He added that people want to hear a “granular SONA,”  or as he suggested “a 30-day plan on how to prevent this pandemic from reaching a dangerous tipping point, from now until August 31.”

“I think that is the end-of-the-tunnel light our people have earned the right to see after enduring one of the world’s longest and toughest quarantines. ‘Yan ang tanong ng taumbayan: Hanggang kailan ba ang aming pagtitiis?,” Recto, a former National Economic and Development Authority chief, said.

Administration Senator Nancy Binay said she expects President Rodrigo Duterte to focus on the “government’s realistic action plans” on what his administration to do in the following months to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and its impact on public health and the economy.

“What the people need to hear in this year’s SONA is a clear implementation structure to get things done. The people must feel protected and cared for, and not abandoned in the middle of the storm,” Binay said in a statement.

She doubled down her same position in a tweet.

“At this critical moment, the people are already drained from listening to reports on what was done in the past seven months. What the people wanted to hear from the President are those that need to be done more in the next five to 12 months–yung mga kinakailangang at dapat gawin sa mga darating na araw, and show to the nation a clear step-by-step roadmap out of the pandemic,” Binay said in a statement.

Binay said she expects the President to present an actionable roadmap with relevant response parameters, time-based deliverables, and with realistic expectations.

Binay said the president should not devote his SONA on what  done, or who’s to blame–we are way past that. Kami sa Senate are ready and willing to support government’s plans to jumpstart the economy, find ways in tapping resources judiciously, and how to help strengthen public health. Ang laban ngayon ay kung paano mabuhay. But as we move ahead, I hope the President would manage people’s expectations, and let them understand how government prioritizes its actions,” she said.

“We have to face it: Nakalubog na ang barko, at nagpa-panic na ang mga pasahero. In many respects, everybody’s goal is to survive. In our case, win the war against the pandemic. Clearly, there is no room for complacency and time is of the essence. It is the Captain’s duty to ensure that procedures are followed for the safety of everyone. The LGUs also need support, guidance and direction. The stakes are high, and failure is not an option. Nasa kalagitnaan po tayo ng dagat–bawat desisyon o aksyon, buhay ang katumbas,” the senator pointed out.

Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros agreed that the focus of Duterte’s SONA should be to present a comprehensive plan to defeat COVID-19 and save the livelihood of Filipinos, “instead of featuring more denials, threats and downplaying of the pandemic.”

“Sa 2020 SONA, hindi pwedeng magpaligoy-ligoy ang gobyerno. Hindi na masisilaw ng gimik, teatro, o mga pagbabanta ang taumbayan. No theatrics, no threats. Kailangan ang pagpapakita ng tunay na malasakit sa pakikinig sa mga hinaing ng Pilipino at pagtugon sa pang-araw-araw nating pangangailangan,” she said in a video message posted in her Facebook page.

She stressed that Duterte should improve the delivery of service especially during the pandemic, starting by increasing transparency and accountability for the billions of pesos in funds being used for the country’s Covid-19 response.

“Ngayong may mga alegasyon ng korapsyon at hindi sapat na ayuda para sa mga nangangailangan, dapat ay magpatupad ang pamahalaan ng independent audit para mapanatag tayo na bawat piso ay napupunta sa pagtulong sa taumbayan,” she said in the video message.  (Rommel F. Lopez)