Duterte’s Sona ‘heart-wrenching’
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to outline a road map for his six years in office in what is touted to be a stirring 38-minute address to Congress today that his aide said would “awaken the patriot in every Filipino.”
On the eve of his first State of the Nation Address (Sona), the Palace announced that Mr. Duterte had signed an executive order adopting the long pending freedom of information (FOI) bill, signaling his determination to put substance in his campaign promise of radical change.
“The speech is really moving,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told the Inquirer by phone yesterday.
“It’s nothing like any of the Sona speeches that we’ve heard before. This one will ask the nation, every citizen to march on and build the country. That’s how it’s like,” he said.
“The address of the President, personally written by the President, will be a very powerful speech that will awaken the patriot in every Filipino,” Andanar said.
“I don’t want to exaggerate. But the first time I read the speech, it made me cry. That’s how beautiful and heart-wrenching the President’s speech is,” he said.
The President’s message, he added, is “really about the country, the flag.”
“It’s not about you, me or the President,” he said. “Everything is bigger than us. That’s why I turned emotional … Your patriotic spirit will really be ignited when you read his speech.”
War on drugs
Andanar declined to provide details, but he said the Sona would mention the government’s sweeping war against illegal drugs, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 300 people since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30, and which has sparked outrage among human rights activists.
Mr. Duterte, who has won a resounding 91-percent approval rating in the Pulse Asia popularity survey released last week, barely three weeks into his presidency, would discuss the blueprint of the policies and directions his administration would take.
“It’s the road map for the whole six years,” Andanar said of the Sona at 4:30 p.m. at the tightly guarded House of Representatives. “You should listen intently. There will be surprises.”
In a news briefing in Davao City, Andanar said Mr. Duterte himself wrote the speech, which would last for about 38 minutes—minus the “applause and some ad libs by the President.”
He said it took about 10 revisions before the President, who had opted not to read prepared speeches in his previous speaking engagements, approved the final draft.
Finance Undersecretary Paola Alvarez earlier said Mr. Duterte would present his administration’s “tax reform package” in his Sona.
Alvarez, daughter of incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who was tasked with helping in the Sona preparations, also said the President would not blame his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, for the massive problems confronting the nation—the drug menace, public transport paralysis and widespread poverty.
Instead, she said the President would ask lawmakers to work on the proposed measures amending the 1987 Constitution and reimposing the death penalty for heinous crimes.
In an e-mailed statement, Malacañang yesterday reminded lawmakers, their spouses and other guests to the President’s Sona to observe the dress code “in order to downplay the display of opulence criticized as insensitive and immoral by the public.”
It said Mr. Duterte’s address “is keeping everyone excited and grounded, and mindful of the work ahead, a complete departure from the procession of glitz and glamour, and lavishness that used to mark the ceremony in previous administrations.”
Malacañang earlier said those attending the Sona should wear business attire. Female guests would be prohibited from wearing gowns and other long dresses.
“We see change knocking at the doors of the 17th Congress,” the Palace said. “The Sona’s highlight is the President’s speech.” With a report from Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao/TVJ
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