Rough Cuts | The President’s SONA ‘zoned’

LAST Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Davaoeno President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was so far the best of his three SONAs.

It was not only relatively short (48 minutes) and direct, it was also devoid of the usual “pagmumura” or ear drum-annoying litany of expletives or cuss words directed against those who he thinks are vexing his spirit. It was uncharacteristic Duterte speech as he hardly deviated from a prepared script to do ad libs. The President appeared serious in everything that he said. Even his facial expression and body language indicated a changed style in his speech delivery.

Well, it could be the product of film director Joyce Bernal’s genius that the President’s dismay on what transpired at the House exactly on the day of his SONA, and his regrets for keeping the guests wait for more than an hour, were manifested without the chief executive saying a single word. He owes it to her.

Even on that aspect alone it was already a major accomplishment of the President. But what made his July 23 SONA more insightful was his well-structured presentation of the administration’s accomplishments during the last two years.

We need not mention here what the President told his nationwide and global audiences. Both national, local and international media had already carried the list of accomplishments and those that his administration intends to do in the remaining years of his term.

But the President made it clear that the achievements he claimed to have been attained by his administration are pro-people. He admitted though, that some sectors of the population may argue that they do not feel its effects.

The President cited his war on drugs. He was honest enough to admit that much are still to be done and that the campaign will still be pursued as “relentless and chilling” as it is. He mentioned that while the war is succeeding, attaining its full objective is being impeded by efforts of human rights advocates and the religious to derail the drive.


Duterte told his audience at the Batasan that while human rights advocates are assailing the alleged violations of law enforcers of the human rights of drug suspects his (the President’s) concern is human lives.

We agree with that assertion by the President. Those killed by police operatives during operation are known and confirmed engaged in illegal drugs business no matter their relatives’ denial. We conform as well that like in all other wars, the possibility that some may have been slain erroneously is one incontrovertible fact that even in war against criminality there will always be risk of collateral damage. Only, it is a question of when, how, and why it happened.

Yes, the President could not be wrong in saying that his responsibility is to ensure that the lives of the Filipinos are preserved and that an ideal future Philippine society is assured. So he has to make a decision — a painful one — to pursue his war against drugs no matter the criticism on his person and his administration.

But while the SONA itself had its positive reviews, from the delivery, the use of words, the absence of cuss words, anger and threat on the face it was clearly noticeable that the proceedings of Congress before the speech were a totally different story.

The majority of the members of the Lower House executed what could be a long-planned, elaborately-designed House leadership coup d’ etat. Right in front of visiting dignitaries, religious leaders, the country’s top justices, the country’s leading businessmen and audiences around the country and the whole world, the coup group waved copies of manifesto declaring that erstwhile Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has been ousted and that the majority of the congressmen voted to install former President and now Pampanga 4th district congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

All these happened while Alvarez was on the other wing of the Batasang Pambansa waiting for President Duterte with Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Then, it seemed the ousted Speaker still retained the loyalty of the operator of the House sound system until the time the President started his SONA. The operator shut off the audio forcing Arroyo to shout to her fellow lawmakers what she wanted to communicate.

We were viewing the incident on television and it was evident the body language of the diplomats were those of mocking birds. But their exasperation was hidden by their respect to the coup d’ etat players who are supposed to be honorable men and women.

Yes, it was the House leadership coup before last Monday’s SONA by the President that stole the thunder from his uncharacteristic annual verbal report to the nation.

Now, it is another strenuous waiting time. That is, waiting to see how far the President can go under the new Congressional leadership, and how much Congress can do to help the administration achieve its development agenda.

Posted in Opinion