Several Philippine Catholic bishops have expressed hope that the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, would be “truthful” when he delivers his last State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26.
“It would be a change if the president speaks truthfully and expresses regrets for his failings in governance and personal example,” said retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani.
The former prelate of the Diocese of Novaliches in the national capital said he expects “plenty of window dressing for a failed administration that has been marked by killings, lies and obscenities.”
Other Catholic bishops came up with their own list of issues that they want to hear from the president’s State of the Nation Address.
“How are we doing with the ‘herd immunity?’” said Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, referring to the current pandemic that have impacted thousands of Filipino families and businesses.
“How are we attending to those who have lost their jobs and business?” said the bishop of Cubao in the financial district of Quezon City, also in the national capital.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said he wants to hear the president’s “strategy to protect our country from the pandemic.”
“How to recover from the heavy economic loss,” said the bishop. He said he also wants to hear about the result of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs that killed thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers.
Bishop Bastes said he is also interested in how the president plans to address his relationship with China, the peace and order situation in the country, and the state of Philippine education.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos in the central Philippines said he wants to listen how the president would speak about the killings, the labor problem, and the state of the country’s environment.
Duterte will deliver his final State of the Nation Address 4 p.m. on Monday, July 26, at the Batasang Pambansa building in Quezon City.
Various groups have announced that they will be holding peaceful protests on the same day to deliver the “real state of the nation.”
Human rights group Karapatan said peaceful assemblies and protests are “basic human rights guaranteed by our Constitution … and this right remains in effect even amid the pandemic.”
“We would like to reiterate that the World Health Organization believes protests are important even in a pandemic as long as they do so safely,” said the group in anticipation of government action on protesters.
Authorities have earlier refused activist groups permits to hold protests, citing existing health protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An ecumenical Church group earlier issued a statement criticizing Duterte’s plan to run as vice president in next year’s national elections.
“Enough is enough. This government has been “weighed on the scales and found wanting,” read the statement of the group One Voice signed by, among others, Catholic Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Taytay, Protestant Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and Bishop Rhee Timbang the Philippine Independent Church.
The group said that Duterte’s recent announcement of a bid for vice president “is the farthest thing from what this country needs.”
Duterte’s presidency, which started at noon on June 30, 2016, is expected to end exactly six years later, before noon of June 30, 2022.