The state of our nation, according to Filipinos

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Ahead of President Duterte's State of the Nation Address, Pinoys across the country express what they think the condition of our nation is under the Duterte administration. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — For President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA), he may stick to his speech. He may discuss the Bangsamoro Organic Law which he is expected to sign before his SONA. He may insult his critics. He may talk about whether or not Charter Change is being railroaded. He may try to convince the public that a shift to federalism will not affect the economy.

The contents of his speech can only be surmised for now, but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque already assured the public that the president’s message will not be long (the speech is expected to last for only 35 minutes), and that he will “speak from the heart.”

Duterte’s SONA is a unique opportunity for the entire Philippines to hear from the president himself what his administration has done to improve the lives of Filipino as well as what his administration’s plans are for another year of public service.

While the president’s SONA gives us an idea as to how the country is run or where our nation is politically, economically, and morally, it is not always illustrative of what the state of our nation is in the eyes of the everyday Filipino. CNN Philippines Life talked to Pinoys across the country to ask about their respective communities and what they think the condition of our nation is under the Duterte administration.

Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

07.jpg Photo courtesy of SALMAN ALI

Salman Ali, 34, planning officer for a local NGO

Amai Pakpak, Marawi City

“Isang malaking pinagbago [sa bansa] ay ang peace and order. Halimbawa sa aming lugar, kahit noong hindi pa nawasak ang Marawi, ay nauna nang nawasak ang mga drug dens at natakot ang lahat ng mga sindikato pati na ang mga mataas na pulitiko. Ngayon lang nangyari ang ganitong pagbabago na akala ng lahat imposible.”

“May culture shock lang ang lipunan at ito ang ginagatungan ng oposisyon. Sa ngayon, unti-unti nang naisulong ang mga haligi ng pagbabago, malaki na ang inabot ng gyera kontra droga, may katapat na ang mga pusakal na kriminal at mga ulo nito na nasa matataas na posisyon sa gobyerno.”

“I believe that the people should support the presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Ito lang ‘yung pagkakataon na nagkaroon tayo ng presidente na may mapagkakatiwalaang track record at dependable personality na my political will to change this country for good. Napakalalim ng pinag-ugatan ng kahirapan at napakalawak ang saklaw ng kasamaan sa ating lipunan. It cannot be changed overnight even during his term.”

“What I’m so worried about is on how he would succeed [in] instituting the sustainable pillars of change. Kaya nga may mga major changes siyang sinusulong gaya ng pagsakripisyo natin sa taxes for [infrastructure], ‘yang problema sa droga at kriminalidad at korupsyon sa gobyerno. Pero malaki ang tiwala kong magagawa, makakayanan niya ito. Kailangan lang maunawaan ng lubusan ng taumbayan at masawata ang mga masasamang elemento ng destabilisasyon.”

05 (1).jpg Photo courtesy of DAVE CERVAS

Dave Cervas, 19, student

San Roque, Zamboanga City

“The most pressing issue that Zamboanga City is faced with at the moment is the increasing crime volume in the city. The proliferation of loose firearms and gun-for-hire syndicates cause the alarming state of peace and order in the city, even prompting the City Mayor to urge police authorities for greater police visibility in the hopes of strategically lessening the shooting incidents in various areas in the city.”

“My life has changed in such a way that the impact of the reforms [Duterte] implemented, both positive and negative, was undeniably felt by every Filipino citizen. From the poor, innocent victims of the drug war to the struggling efforts of the middle class to keep afloat amidst the effects of the five-year high inflation rate and the imposed tax reforms, I have been a witness as to how the Duterte effect has drastically shaped the current order of things in the country. I earnestly hope that the years to come would yield justified responses to the shortcomings the administration has committed and admitted in the past for it to truly prove the progressive change it proposed.”

06.jpg Photo courtesy of WENDY LABASTILLA

Wendy Labastilla, 34, public school teacher

Maigo, Lanao del Norte

“Education is the backbone for the sustainability of our country. Philippine education is far left behind in terms of technology especially the schools in the hinterland. From the old to the present administration, this concern is still not addressed.”

“In terms of peace and order in Mindanao, ramdam ko po ang safety namin unlike po nung panahon ni Aquino at nakaraang administrasyon. Mas ok po dito sa Mindanao kahit na martial law. Lesser na ang pagala-gala sa kalye dahil sa Oplan Tokhang ni Duterte. In terms of economy, the same pa din, tag hirap. But still, I am hoping for change in the DepEd System and may [the admin] help us teachers sa pagdating sa mga learning facilities and supplies na magagamit sa classroom at sana hindi na kami gagastos para sa classroom structuring naming.”

“I know that this present administration has its own plan [for] teachers [of] DepEd. Sana ASAP na ang pagbabago. I just feel a little bit change in [terms of] the peace and order at ‘yung ibang allowances namin ay natatanggap din naman at may mga increase na din.”

04.jpg Photo courtesy of GAYVEBEL DE LOS SANTOS

Gayvebel de los Santos, 26, nurse

Roxas City, Capiz

“‘Pag wala kang pera, hindi ka talaga mauuna. This is evidently visible especially in the government hospitals. Even in applying for government jobs, uso pa din ang padrino system. ‘Pag wala kang kilala, magiging casual worker ka lang even after the required stint to apply for a contractual or regular worker na. The never ending graft and corruption in the government offices. Hindi lang higher officials pati ‘yung mga nasa opisina lang or galamay nila, marunong na din.”

“The way I personally see it, parehong may maganda at hindi maganda ‘yung naidulot ‘yung ‘pag upo ng ating presidente. Pros would include the streets at night feel safer now especially sa mga mag-isang umuuwi. The drug issue, as one of the many campaigns of the president, is taken into action. Mas nakakabuo tayo ng magandang relasyon sa ibang mga bansa that would significantly affect our trade, tourism, and industry. Cons, implementation of this drug issue. I was able to visit the local prison here in Roxas City. One of the many clamors of the suspects is that planted daw or ‘yung ibang kasama nila na hindi naman dapat damay eh nadadamay.”

“There is a noticeable gradual increase [in the price] of commercial goods. For the below average bracket Filipinos, mahirap ‘yung ganitong estado especially if naghahanap ka ng makakain para sa pamilya mo araw-araw.”

08 (1).jpg Photo courtesy of MARIE IRISH INOCETO

Marie Irish Inoceto, 41, legal researcher

La Paz, Iloilo City

“[The state of our nation is] worse. The shadow of the Marcoses loom over the country making a come back. The cronyism they established returns with Duterte's own possé. Cabinet members make a killing stealing millions of people's taxes. When caught, [they] simply resign without being persecuted and are recycled to other positions. The trolls on social media now become his propaganda machine spewing fake news and insulting people to silence. The politicians and thieves previously caught and jailed are let go (see PGMA).”

“The gains we had in the [Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)] declaring the [West Philippine Sea] as our territory is lost with Duterte's cowardice. In a span of two years, this government managed to kill more than 20,000 people just by EJK. And we have four more years of that (barring ConAss or Chacha). And have I talked about the closing down of Lumad schools, not allowing Alcadev to teach Lumad children. The militarization of the ancestral domains of the indigenous people for the sake of mining corporations remains underreported.”

“I used to be more complacent during the administrations of GMA and PNoy. I even became a keyboard warrior for Duterte during the campaign period hoping he would usher in the much needed change based on his campaign promises. I didn't believe most of it of course, like jet skiing to the WPS, or ridding the country of drugs in six months, but I believed that we needed someone who didn't come from the regular run of the mill oligarchs. How wrong I was. I regretted that decision, realized I got duped, and saw the worsening conditions of the country in his first six months. I had no choice but to be critical. I had to sieve through the lies. I became an advocate of LGBT rights with the Iloilo Pride Team and Bahaghari, a member of Gabriela Network of Professionals, [among others].”

01 (1).jpg Photo courtesy of DANN DIEZ

Dann Diez, 43, development worker

Consolacion, Cebu

“I’m concerned about the rampant killings and war against drugs that affects the poor, [the] build, build, build, program that lacks foresight of where we [could] end up in terms of economy and debt, but most of all, [the] effects of environment and conservation efforts because of a rising inflation rate.”

“The changes [in my life] are personal and not influenced by the Philippine government. It boils down to individual work ethics and goals. For me, I have to do more and reach more places to affect change all over the country. Thus, my project, the Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development continues to address energy transition, environmental movement, education, and enterprise development.”

03.jpg Photo courtesy of SHAIRA MANDO

Shaira Mando, 21, student

Ugac Norte, Tuguegarao City

“Okay [ang bansa] dahil sa pamamalakad [ni Duterte], regarding sa mga government officials na corrupt at nabawasan naman ang mga gumagamit ng drugs … Agree ako sa [war on drugs] kasi nabawan na ‘yung mga druglords sa bansa na sila lang tong mas yumayaman sa pagbebenta ng drugs. But in my own opinion, ‘yung mga pinapatay regarding sa drugs, I think hindi naman si Duterte lahat nagpapapatay dun. Kasi kung mapapansin natin, ‘yung mga ordinaryong tao lang na nagdradrugs ang pinapatay at hindi ‘yung mga bigtime kasi feeling ko ‘yung mga big boss nalang din ang nagpapapatay sa kanila.”

“[Personally], I think my life did not change in any way since Duterte became president kasi wala namang pagbabago sa estado ng buhay namin. Ganun parin … Minsan ‘pag dating na sa pagbayad ng tuition, may mga times na nahihirapan kami kung saan kukunin kasi my father is just a tricycle driver and my mother is a housewife. Although ako nalang ‘yung nag-aaral sa magkakapatid, medyo nagigipit rin minsan.”

10 (2).jpg Photo courtesy of KRISTINE GALANG

Kristine Galang, 28, business owner

Sta. Maria, Bulacan

“The state of the nation today is one without a conscience. The majority remains apathetic on the growing culture of impunity, the blatant disregard for basic human decency, and the undermining of the rule of law.”

“With the peso heading south, inflation and poverty incidence both going up, Mocha Uson being a credible source of information to many, Janet Napoles being free while innocent people are jailed, the unconstitutional removal of the Chief Justice, and more people being killed everyday — the promise of change remains nothing but a campaign rhetoric that fooled 16 million people.”

“We need to demand more from this administration because we deserve better.”

02.jpg Photo courtesy of ELIDA MARCIAL

Elida Marcial, 22, public information staff, office of the mayor

San Vicente Angono, Rizal

“Mas okay [ang estado ng bansa] siguro dahil sa maigting na kampanya ni Digong sa peace and order. Nadama ko na ang mga tao ay may takot sa otoridad, mainly police, kasi alam naman natin kung gaano ka-firm sa Digong sa kanyang mga salita at aksyon lalo na kontra droga.”

“Nabago [ang buhay ko] in terms of fake news. Malaki issue sa akin ito. Nakaka-punyeta ito sobra … Lumaki ako na ang mga balita ay totoo at may kredibilidad ngunit noong kampanya at ng maupo si Duterte nauso na 'yang fake news na ‘yan, idagdag mo pa si Mocha na bwiset at ang teknolohiya partikular na ang social media kung saan ang kahit sino ay makikisawsaw so nandoon 'yung eagerness ko [na] labanan ito ... Sa trabaho ko naman inaapply ko ito sa pag-build ng credibility ng Angono [Public Information Office] page na ito ang tangkilikin sa mga anunsyo, announcements at iba pa para ang tao iisa lang ang direksyon o aasahan pagdating sa serbisyo ng gobyerno at di na malilihis sa mga maaari magsulputan na page.”

09 (1).jpg Photo courtesy of RONALD VERZO

Ronald Verzo, 39, independent book publisher

Bacoor, Cavite

“I don't know what statistics say but as I have observed, there is likely one to two members in a family residing in Cavite who travels daily to Manila for work or school. Dito kasi nagdagsaan ang mga tao in the last two decades. Because of its proximity to Manila, andaming farmlands na ginawang subdivisions. It has become the most populated province. Imagine how they use the roads leading to Manila, tapos lahat 'yan nagko-converge sa Longos sa Bacoor. Imagine the traffic. No matter how many roads they build, the Cavitex, Daang-hari, the traffic never changed. Tapos iisipin mo, bakit sa Maynila sila lahat tumatakbo? Nasaan ba ang trabaho sa Cavite? Nasaan ang magagandang edukasyon sa Cavite? Nabibigay ba ng gobyerno?”

“Nagbago [ang buhay ko]? Hindi. Baka nga bumalik pa sa dati, katulad noong bata ako at panahon ni Marcos. Kung kelan takot ang mga magulang ko na paglaruin ako sa labas ng bahay. May pakiramdam kasing walang ligtas sa kalye. Nangyayari uli ito ngayon. At nalulungkot ako na bilang magulang e naipapasa ko ang takot na ito sa aking mga anak. Binakuran na ng takot ng mga magulang ko ang kabataan ko dati e. Ngayon, nangyayari uli sa mga anak ko naman. Nakikita ko kasing nagtatanim ng takot ang gobyernong ito sa mga mamamayan. Naipaglaban na ng mga magulang natin na maging malaya e bakit nandito na naman tayo, anong nangyayari? Alam naman nating walang nararating ang batang takot, ano pa kaya ang bayang takot? So kung gusto ng gobyernong ito na maging magaling ang bayan, ‘wag siyang mag-aruga ng sambayanang takot sa kanya.”