By Jhon Axcel Beltran

On the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the late dictator’s son was able to mention his plans for reviving the economy, agriculture, health, infrastructures, technology, and education. 

Cartoon by Aureus Ken Pupa

However, he had missed some important and relevant points that many of us deserved to hear. Here are they:

Human Rights

After a catastrophic six-year term of populist and former President Rodrigo Duterte, that left thousands of extrajudicial killings because of his bloody war on drugs campaign, rights groups and advocates hoped that Marcos Jr. would address and make his stand clear about the sanctity of human rights. But as expected, he did not mention anything about it.

It was also his chance to take accountability for the atrocities and human rights transgressions made by his dictator father Ferdinand Marcos Sr. during the disastrous years of Martial Law. But as we have all seen through the years, it’s something he and his family never admits.

He should一but he didn’t一call for the release of human rights defender and political prisoner Leila De Lima who has been detained for fabricated drug-related accusations. This is also conflicting with his promise of unity during his presidential campaign.

He also didn’t give a word encapsulating the appointment of the new Commission of Human Rights (CHR) Chair, and that of the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG)一a commission established to recover the ill-gotten wealth of his family.

Meanwhile, there was no mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) case of Duterte. However, a week after his SONA, Marcos Jr. expressed that the country “has no intention” to rejoin the ICC. 

Clearly, human rights are in limbo. Without giving a clear stand on this, we might see a history of human rights transgression repeating itself—or even worse.

Disinformation and Media Repression

The Philippines is tagged as “patient zero” in the global disinformation crisis. Despite this, the current administration seems to have no plan in curing this illness. It’s not surprising, but it’s disappointing because Marcos Jr. is the top beneficiary of fake news and disinformation online. It actually paved the way for his victory.

In his speech, he mentioned how digitalization and technology will contribute to the progress of our country. However, digitalization is vulnerable to abuse and misuse, hence concrete and specific regulations shall be made.

Moreover, despite the rampant attacks on journalists and press freedom, Marcos Jr. does not bat an eyelash. Marcos Jr. did not appear in any presidential debates during the election campaign. His campaign also blocked and boxed out journalists from interviewing him, instead, he preferred vloggers, online content creators, SMNI Media–owned by self-proclaimed Son of God and FBI’s suspect for sex-trafficking Apollo Quiboloy一to cover him.

The way Marcos Jr. treats the media during his presidential campaign already cignals of where his position on this matter lies. The weaponization of social media and antagonization of journalists are being normalized by the Marcos administration. We must hold the line.

Anti-corruption, and wages

Marcos Jr. presented his various agenda for economic recovery and growth. He also laid plans and gave us a glimpse of the infrastructures that he wants to pursue. The investments are big, but bigger spending means more susceptibility to corruption. Aside from his economic plans, we also deserved to hear how he will prevent corruption and illegalities.

To give you context, Marcos Jr. was allegedly involved in the 2016 pork barrel scam where an alliance of youth organizations accused him of channeling P205 million of his Priority Development Assistant Funds (PDAF) to the bogus non-government organization of pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Not counting his family’s unpaid P203 billion worth of estate tax, Marcos’ alleged involvement in corruption cases already provides a dubious picture of the integrity and accountability of the new administration.

On the one hand, wage increases in sectors like education and health were not mentioned. Health workers and teachers have been facing the agonies of overworking yet being underpaid. If the administration is sincere in supporting and alleviating the situation of our health and education, there must be an increase in their salaries and more benefits

During his campaign, Marcos Jr. kept on blabbering about “unity”. Now that he won, it’s time to hold him accountable. True unity entails all sectors and all issues to be resolved, or to be addressed at least. However, after his first SONA, there were issues, people left untouched.

Filipinos, it’s time for us to realize the kind of governance, the kind of country that we deserve. Ask ourselves: Do we deserve a country plunged into depths of poverty and hunger? Do we deserve to be ruled by leaders with histories of atrocities and crime? Do we deserve a community where there are people left behind? Do our children deserve to live in fear and in a society where the culture of impunity thrives?

I hope the answers to these questions are not missing. 


After the first State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Explained PH Opinion Desk shares a series of columns tackling the important areas of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s speech, including the necessary points that he did not mention.