Asia Minute: New President of the Philippines Delivers State of the Nation Address

Jul 25, 2016

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The Democratic convention gets underway later today, a week after the Republican gathering. This is also the day for a political tradition in the Philippines—one that will be getting a closer look than usual. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Today’s the day for the “State of the Nation” Address in the Philippines.  It’s a lot like the State of the Union speech in the United States—a televised event before a joint session of Congress—and a chance for the president to lay out a policy agenda.  The tradition in the Philippines first started in 1899—it was written into the 1987 Constitution to take place on the fourth Monday of July.

This year’s version will get more international attention than usual, because it will be delivered by the new President of the Philippines—Rodrigo Duterte.  He won election in May after a bruising campaign filled with rhetoric that had some calling him the “Trump of the Philippines.”  He took office last month….promising to make law and order a top priority—pledging to bring back the death penalty, especially for drug dealers.

One senator who lost a bid to become vice president said he wants to hear Duterte’s broader vision for the country…saying “this would prove that he’s more than a one-trick pony whose only expertise is a barbaric anti-illegal drug purge.”  The outgoing president of the senate said he wants to hear specifics about fulfilling campaign promises—including plans to raise the minimum pay for police.  Another topic of interest: what comes next in relations with China—and the territorial dispute over the South China Sea.