Unity Statement on Duterte’s Fifth State of the Nation Address

Mga lingkod bayan, tinawag kayong mga lingkod bayan sa iisang dahilan — ang paglingkuran ang bayan at hindi ang kung anupaman. May utang kayo sa bayan.

Kabataan, lumaban kasama ng bayan. Imulat mo ang iyong kamalayan bilang mamamayan.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) in an almost two-hour speech where he discussed the country’s situation dealing with COVID-19, endorsed the passage of several priority bills, laid out government achievements, and once again, slammed his critics. And yet again, in the middle of the climate emergency, climate was not part of the president’s agenda in his SONA, despite our country being one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Days prior to SONA, the palace stated that the pandemic plans would be unveiled during his speech. Instead of a clear, concise plan of action for the pandemic, the topics derailed from the supposed details to jabs about “oligarchs” — a confirmation about what was really occupying Duterte’s mind. In addition, he mentioned that he sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the vaccine. At least, the SONA started on time.

While the day-to-day lives of our countrymen continue to suffer, the government still continues to neglect the call of the Filipino people for a concrete and clear plan of action, extended support to our medical frontliners, and an appropriate and prompt response to the medical crisis. We are heading into our fifth month of quarantine lockdown and no significant solution has been introduced to relieve our situation. Marginalized sectors, including our frontline environmental defenders, are the most affected by this pandemic in both the public health and economic perspectives, as multinational corporations continue their business-as-usual practices despite our current situation. This act sadly shows the incompetence of the administration in handling the situation.

We, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines and other environmental advocates, express our great discontent with the inadequacy of the State of the Nation report.

Our call to the Executive Government Officials

We call on the executive branch for concrete plans to address the continuous increase of COVID-19 cases which will bear great and destructive consequences as the pandemic remains mishandled. Provide budget transparency and unbiased COVID-19 case reporting; the people have the right to be given sound and unadulterated data. Release clear and coherent information to the public to avoid confusion and chaos. Furthermore, acknowledge the pandemic as a national threat to public health and our economy that can be solved through a medical approach, not by meddling with human rights.

We are one with the government in stressing the importance of agriculture but, we cannot protect this prime sector when we continue to destroy biodiversity and manhandle its protectors. We emphasize the need for stringent implementation of people-centric laws and policies governing the preservation of our natural resources, protection of our wildlife and its habitats, and the active participation and security of its defenders. Approve and implement projects that will protect our biodiversity; hinder the approval of land-deteriorating activities. One with the environmental defenders of our country, we call to suspend erring large-scale mining companies and to #SaveManilaBay!

The Philippines must claim its jurisdiction over its islands, water, and territories. We implore your allegiance to the Philippine Constitution to protect her marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone to be accessed and enjoyed by her sons and daughters. The South China Sea West Philippine Sea is ours!

The deadline for our nationally determined contributions (NDCs,) has already passed, but they are nowhere to be found. Our NDCs need to be set as soon as possible with proper consultation with the sectors involved, especially the marginalized sectors. Our NDCs must also keep the welfare of the people in mind.

Finally, we call on our executive officials to take to the international stage and stand for climate justice. With the Philippines experiencing some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis despite its minimal contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, climate justice means that carbon majors owe countries like the Philippines concrete plans of action to greatly reduce their emissions, as well as reparations for the damages brought about by climate change. Our leaders need to take a stronger stance on this issue if we are serious about a new normal for the country.

Our call to the Congress

We call on our legislators to create bills that side with the people and safeguard the environment, now more than ever. Challenge every bill in its form, constitutionality, and technicality and never forget to envision its repercussions on the environment and its inhabitants.

Our current national situation should show, now more than ever, the demand for support for our local scientists, researchers, and inventors. The lack of support is apparent in both the public and private health system, to the allied health professionals and to the general welfare of the public; it is also evident in our lack of science-backed climate policies. We urge the Congress to rethink appropriations of the national budget and adhere to these shortsighted areas that took a pandemic and the climate crisis to be seen.

On the climate front, we ask our legislators to pass a moratorium on coal-fired power plants as the country does its part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Our gradual shift to renewable energy should also keep in mind the workers who will be affected; a roadmap born out of consultations with and active participation of our workers and other key marginalized sectors to ensure a just transition would also be required as we press forward to the new normal. Last but not the least, our legislators must push for our government to declare a people’s climate emergency, recognizing that issues like the current pandemic are only exacerbated by the impacts of the climate crisis on our country. In the declaration of a climate emergency, our legislators must listen to the Filipino people and ensure that their well-being, particularly that of our environmental defenders, will be of top priority.

The law must serve and protect the people against injustices and inequitable treatment. We appeal to the Congress to take a stand as a co-equal branch of the Executive and Judiciary Department against blatant oppression and abuse; uphold the highest law of the land; sympathize with the people whom you represent and promise to serve. The Terror Law is a threat to our human rights and democracy, and we call on the Congress to repeal the law in the interest of the Filipino people.

Our call to the Judiciary 

We call on to our magistrates. This is the best time to show the Filipino people who Lady Justice is, now more than ever. Amplify her attribute to your dear motherland. Interpret and administer the law with integrity, impartiality, fairness, independence, and bravery to guard her democracy.

We implore the Supreme Court Justices’ power to be exercised rightly in allegiance to our constitution to ensure the protection of life and liberty, and the promotion of general welfare of the public. With the numerous petitions against the Terror Law currently being processed by the Supreme Court, we urge you to listen to the very people Lady Justice is supposed to serve.

Junk the Terror Law! Defend the environment, defend the people!




  1. Give a concrete and clear plan of action to address the pandemic.
  2. Address the pandemic through a medical approach not through a military approach.
  3. Utilize this opportunity to protect Philippine biodiversity and environment by putting a stop to large-scale mining and reclamation.
  4. Provide support to our local scientists, researchers, and inventors.
  5. Declare a people’s climate emergency in recognition of the current climate crisis.

Published by Mitzi Jonelle Tan

Convener of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines | Fridays for Future International | Climate Justice and Social Justice Activist

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