One hour late: Duterte arrives at Batasan for Sona
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte arrived Monday afternoon at the House of Representatives in Quezon City for his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona).
The presidential helicopter carrying Duterte touched down at 4:53 p.m. at the Batasan Complex. He was set to address the nation at 4 p.m.
The President was received by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal.
At the end of the honor guards formation, Duterte was welcomed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and newly-elected Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
He was then escorted to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office before proceeding to the session hall for the joint session of Congress.
Duterte, who used to deliver off-the-cuff remarks during his previous Sonas, is expected to read his 19-page prepared speech that would last for 40 to 45 minutes.
According to Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo, the President’s fourth Sona speech would just be “short,” and will not likely discuss the government’s accomplishments in the past year as these were already done during the three pre-Sona fora.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the President will tackle in his speech the issues of corruption, illegal drugs, terrorism, and the West Philippine Sea, among others.
In his Sona last year, Duterte spoke for around 48 minutes only.
Last year, Duterte’s Sona was also overshadowed by the sudden House leadership coup when former Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo was elected to replace Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez to the speakership, a scheme supposedly maneuvered by Presidential daughter and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. This caused Duterte’s 2018 Sona to be delayed by almost an hour.
But that would not be the case this year as lawmakers on Monday opened the 18th Congress by electing Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as House Speaker, in line with Duterte’s earlier proposal. /je
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