THE VOICE: Parens Patriae: Post-SONA Reflections

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) — More than 24 hours have passed and everything that needs to be analyzed about PRRD’s 2nd SONA must have already been said and scrutinized.

It was difficult to pick just one quote from the entire speech.  Many people prepared for a 45-minute speech knowing all this time that it was going to be more than that.  For the next couple of hours people stayed glued to TV, radio, cell phones listening to President Duterte.  No, he was not delivering a speech: he was talking to us, the Filipino People.

President Duterte played his role fully well – that of Parens Patriae, or Father to the Nation.  He did not forget what he promised last year, what has been done and what needs to be done; what are the challenges while giving instructions to agencies according to their respective mandates.  He was like a head of the family who gives tasks to his children commensurate to their capacity – with the eldest child taking a heavier load and the youngest the lightest load.  Everybody must pitch in, even the recalcitrant ones.

He was candid; that same characteristic that endeared him to the Filipino people, talking in the language that sent the right messages to all audiences, including his critics.  He gave clear warnings, especially to those who are remiss in paying back after enjoying the fat of the land; i.e. miners to use their multimillion profits to repair the areas that they have destroyed.

He mentioned in passing indigenous peoples in terms of inclusivity of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.  It seems though that The President looks at Lumads in terms of how they are perceived to be sympathetic to the NPA – which is not always the case.  Lumads or Indigenous Peoples including the ones in Luzon face issues bigger than the NPA like the destruction of their ancestral lands and access to basic services.  This puts an already exploited people in double jeopardy.  Though with the submission of the draft BBL to the President and the IP Commissioner saying it is the best for the moment, I am confident that the concerns of the IPs specifically in Maguindanao will be responded to appropriately in due time.

People in Cotabato City, Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat also waited for something that will address the perennial problem of flooding in the Mindanao River Basin.  There was none.  I have the gut feel – I may be wrong though – that agencies mandated to address the problem did not brief the President enough.  Or maybe the President already lumped that into the environmental degradation issue as a whole.

The President also wrapped up his speech beautifully – by invoking God’s loving protection as the country journeys with him.  I always like to repeat the fact that no other president invoked the name of God in everything he does.  He does not come across as proselytizing, but someone whose spirituality is so deep he does not have to name any religion even if he says some words in Arabic.  After all, the faithful rejoice in praising God in any language. I soak in those parting words.

Here is a leader whom the Filipino people love and respect and are willing to build the nation with.

It is only proper that the rest of the world respect that.

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Aveen Acuña-Gulo posts herself on Facebook as a Monumental Operations Manager (MOM).  She is a Bukidnon-born Cebuano mother of three Maguindanao-Ilonggo-Cotabateño children; who will always be a child at heart even if she is a hundred years old.
She wrote a column “The Voice” for the Mindanao Cross from 1991-2006.
She likes to challenge stereotypes.  “Don’t worry about my opinions.  It won’t make a dent to the conventional,” she says]

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