Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hontiveros Hopes to Hear Health, Hague and Human Rights Solutions in Duterte's SONA

Wazzup Pilipinas!

I will listen to President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) with an open mind and insistence on hope. I am attending this event as a Filipino, health advocate and mother. Thus, I expect three important things from the President's SONA.

As a health advocate, I hope that the President will elaborate on his government's health policy framework.His decision to send our health officials to Cuba to study its health care system is a step in the right direction. Cuba's health care system is hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the best. I have high hopes that this will enable the government to live up to its mandate to provide universal healthcare for the people. Universal health care is a great equalizer. Its fulfillment is a step towards eradicating inequality.

As a Filipino, I trust that President Duterte will be guided by the historic Hague Ruling to assert the country's sovereignty and marine jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea and in advancing genuine peace and stability in the region. Our historic win before the Arbitral Tribunal must be strengthened by the new government. To deviate from the spirit of this ruling would render the victory hollow and our sovereignty compromised.

As a mother, I expect President Duterte to reaffirm his adherence to due process and rule of law, an oath that he made during his inauguration. Together with this, I hope the President will adopt a different tenor on women's dignity.

The spike in the numbers of extrajudicial killings and random murders on our streets is disquieting. A climate of fear and uncertainty has descended on many families and communities. Not a few women have been killed and not a few mothers have shed tears over the loss of a son or daughter unjustly killed in the fight against crime and illegal drugs. The killings on the streets must stop. The perpetrators, whether they be vigilantes, lawless elements or corrupt and overzealous law enforcers, must all be made accountable. President Duterte, through his first SONA, must send a strong message that it is not the policy of his government to sacrifice human rights and the rule of law in its anti-crime campaign. Human rights and rule of law are essential in any democratic society. The solution to disorder is not greater disorder. The solution to crime is not inexplicable murders. Lasting peace will only be possible with respect for the dignity of men and women and the government's adherence to human rights.

I hope these three issues will be covered by President Duterte's SONA. To make good on his campaign promises, he should know that these three issues are crucial in building a strong, healthy and peaceful country.

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