SONA 2016: What are Duterte's priorities?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday echoed his election campaign promises and his inaugural address — law and order, economic development, and improved government service.

At the outset, Duterte pointed out that all three leaders facing Congress and the nation — Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the President himself — are all from Mindanao. That is a sign of fresh efforts to address the decades-long neglect of the southern Philippine region while it tries to deal with festering armed conflicts and underdevelopment.

Unilateral ceasefire with Reds

To loud applause, the President declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a 47-year-old insurgency.

"I expect and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly," Duterte added.

The NDF, the political arm of the CPP, represents the rebels in peace negotiations to end Asia’s longest-running insurgency.

NDF representatives have indicated they were open to a ceasefire while holding negotiations with the Duterte government, a departure from their previous firm stand of not agreeing to a truce until a final peace deal has been signed.

Formal peace talks are scheduled to resume in Oslo, Norway, next month.

'Relentless' fight vs. corruption, crime

Recalling his promises during the election campaign, Duterte said his administration's fight against crime, illegal drugs, and corruption "will be relentless and sustained."

"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last [drug] pusher have surrendered or [have been] put behind bars — or below the ground if they so wish," he said.

He also warned police officers and government officials involved in crime. "Abuse your authority, and there will be hell to pay — for you would have become worse than criminality itself," he said.

Duterte ordered the National Police Commission to speed up the investigation of cases of officers linked to crime. He also directed the Napolcom to suggest policies for making lifestyle checks on the police.

Inter-agency fight vs. drugs

Duterte said his administration will create an inter-agency committee to deal with illegal drugs and integrate efforts and strengthen partnerships of all "stakeholders." He said the armed forces will prepare military camps to be used for drug rehabilitation.

Military reservists will be mobilized for an information campaign against drug use, and dissemination of information regarding the drug rehabilitation program.

Duterte said the government will prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users as residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities are established all over the country.

'Full force' vs. Abu Sayyaf

Duterte said the "full force" of the AFP will be applied "to crush" the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group, whom he described as "criminals who operate under the guise of religious fervor."

Among other things, he plans to increase coordination with Malaysia and Indonesia and strengthen the government's counter-terrorism program by amending various laws on terrorism, terrorism financing and cyber crime.  He did not specify the amendments.

Maritime row with China

Duterte also stood by the Arbitral Tribunal's decision that favored the Philippines in its arbitration against China’s claims to virtually all of the South China Sea.

“We strongly affirm and respect the outcome of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as an important contribution to the ongoing efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution and management of our disputes,” Duterte said.

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal upheld the Manila’s position that China’s “nine-dash line” maritime claim is excessive and encroached into the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Duterte has appointed former President Fidel V. Ramos to stand as the country's special envoy to China in talks over the maritime dispute.

'Social justice will be pursued'

Duterte said his administration will pursue a "human" approach for development with improvements in health, social welfare, education, food and housing.

He said addressing global warming will be a "top priority."

"But upon a fair and equitable equation. It must not stymie our industrialization," he added.

Duterte also promised to reform the tax system and continue sound economic policies.

"We will lower personal and corporate income tax, and relax the bank secrecy law," he said to the cheers of the people that packed the House of Representatives session hall and gallery.

The president also vowed protection for women's rights, calling abuses against women "unacceptable."

Reduced bureaucracy

The President called for streamlined processes and better government services.

He promised to increase train speed and the number of trains in Metro Manila as well as extended operating hours.

The validity of a driver's licenses will be extended from three to five years, while passport will be made valid for 10 years from the current five.

Duterte said the newly created Department of Information and Communications Technology will formulate a plan o accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables to improve internet speed. He also said there will be free WiFi in selected public places.

Different SONA

The SONA was revised several times, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

He said the SONA was personally written by Duterte, who instructed members of his Cabinet to submit their inputs to the speech, including targets and deliverables for the next six years.

This year's SONA was a change from those of Duterte's predecessors. Among the most visible changes was the prescribed business dress code to do away with opulent attire.