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Dumaguete City, Philippines Tuesday, July 26, 2016
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‘SONA brings renewed
hope for Negrenses’


            President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address has brought renewed hope for constituents of Negros Oriental, who believe that the man is sincere and genuine in his desire to serve the country and its people.

            “For now, we are happy and inspired that Digong (Duterte) is also making the fight against human trafficking a co-equal with the fight against illegal drugs,” Romualdo Señeris II, Visayan Forum regional coordinator for Central Visayas, said.

            “Drugs and human trafficking are both part of the Top 3 crimes in the world, according to the United Nations,” he added.

            Duterte had announced in his SONA that he considers the war against human trafficking and illegal recruitment as equally important as the problem against illegal drugs.

            “We are happy also because we need to sustain our Tier 1 status in the fight against human trafficking as a country. And we need the President to support such fight,” Señeris said.

            Also, Señeris announced that he and his VF team are happy on Duterte’s plans and directions for the Department of Social Welfare and Development that beneficiaries of the 4Ps to graduate and enable them to be independent by providing livelihood and other opportunities.

            The same sentiment on the 4Ps was shared by Jun Yurong, a marketing specialist of the Perpetual Help Community Cooperative Inc., who said it will teach the beneficiaries to be self-sufficient and not totally rely on government dole out.

            He said that he is hopeful of more projects for a small island like Siquijor, where he comes from, now that Duterte is considering more projects for the provinces.

            “I salute his ways of running after big fish in the illegal drugs trade,” Yurong added.

            Maricar Aranas-Vensuelo, marketing and advertising officer of PHCCI, expressed optimism that the President will do what he has promised in his SONA. It was a long but very powerful speech, she added.

            “I like the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) mandate, specifically on mining, especially that part where the President stressed to strictly follow government standard. This would mean less bald mountains,” Vensuelo added.

            Her husband, Sulpicio Vensuelo Jr., however, expressed caution that the President should also be watchful with his Cabinet members as they might also be the same people to go against him. He, however, did not elaborate.

            Engr. Fred Magallano, a consultant on power development and the executive director of the Diocesan Electoral Board of the Diocese of Dumaguete, described the President’s SONA as “the best SONA I’ve ever heard: authentic, Dutertic, “prangkahan (straightforward), consistent with his election promises, no blame game, direct and slicing through the meat of the matter.”

            The SONA was “forward-looking as it should be, offers the hand of peace but maintains the iron fist of authority, and several times referring to the menace of drugs as a No-No. Who can beat that?” Magallano added.

            But he would have wanted Duterte to include one detail: “the interconnection of Mindanao to the Luzon-Visayas grid, which should improve the reserves of Mindanao, as it is in the most precarious situation now, as well as integrate the overall system capability of the whole country”.

            He said the country would be operating then as one big grid, therefore, the reserves of Luzon and Visayas will be available to Mindanao; vice-versa, the reserves of Mindanao in some instances would be made available to Visayas or Luzon.

            “On power plants, especially for Mindanao, I agree that coal plants are indispensable during these times. But a programmed phase out of these coal-burning plants must be programmed in the future, just like what Britain, Korea, the U.S. and others are doing,” he added.

            For Aina Maree Siason, a student in Dumaguete City and an active member of the Catholic Church volunteering for the Diocesan Association of Volunteers and Interpreters for the Deaf and the Diocesan Committee on Liturgical Music, the President’s SONA at best was impressive but she had some reservations on the Reproductive Health law and the illegal drugs problem.

            “I am impressed with everything in the SONA except for the issue on drugs that the big fish cannot be found here but are outside of the country, and the full implementation of the RH Law”, she said.

            “Duterte also puts down the Catholic Church too much but then gives respect to Islam which displays bias and does not advocate unification,” Siason added.

            She added the “Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines would obviously have something to say about the implementation of the RH law and then ridicule will be poured out again against the Catholic Church.”

            “The President cannot please everyone but I think he is trying his best, based on his own standards and principles to come up with fast solutions to cater to the problems of the country. But still not everyone is at par with this,” she stressed.

            Anna Marie Verzosa-Natindim, who resides with her family in Jakarta, Indonesia, expressed hope that Duterte will follow through with the assurance of having drug users treated for substance abuse while drug pushers who have been arrested will be brought to court.

            On the one-stop shop for overseas Filipino workers, she pointed out that there is already a model on this in Cagayan de Oro inside the Limketkai mall, where agencies like SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig are present.

            Verzosa, who hails from Dumaguete and whose husband is an OFW expat in Jakarta, expressed hope that the Duterte administration will add more agencies to what is already currently existing in that mall, while also replicating the same in other parts of the country.

            And for a young businessman like Jan Michael Montebon Sarsaga of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, Duterte can only do so much and therefore “we should help him accomplish his goal for the good of the people”.

            Supportive of the President’s campaign against illegal drugs, Sarsaga said there is much to be done for the Duterte administration to rid the country of this problem.

            Six years is still quite a long ways ahead and so those who are involved in the illegal drugs problem should better surrender now, he added.*JFP



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