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by Jullie Daza 

Days before the President’s SONA, TV reporter Mario Dumaual has been asking friends and other strangers what they wish to hear in DU30’s highly anticipated report.

Friend or stranger, I told Mario I was only interested in what Digong will wear, since what he has to say is already in the cards, so to speak, if not in the script. If I had had a bit more time, I would’ve told him that this President, because our problems have made us feel so hopeless and yet so hopeful under his administration, has earned the prayers of many groups actively praying for his safety in the privacy of their meetings and in the silent stillness of their hearts. Not being a prayerful person myself, I consider this a singular accomplishment in any language or religion.

They’re praying for a leader who has been called everything from despot to psychopath, a crowdpleaser who resorts to cusswords, hyperbole, self-deprecating anecdotes, and I-will-kill-you damnations. If his fashion sense is a reflection of character, it has not been anything if not esoteric: Suspenders intentionally visible under a barong, Everyman’s T-shirt and jeans, the better to carry a gun tucked into the waistband, PH-made shoes and watch. He’s not a diplomat who resorts to the finesse of doublespeak, talking in that “colorful language” (Barack Obama’s description) that he reserves for only the most linguistically refined, such as heads of state, the Roman Church, EU, UN.

With two days to go before SONA, let’s remind the President of some “promising” things he said last year.

“The people want me to put a stop to crime, corruption, drugs.”

“I don’t want people to queue, spend money when they need something from government.”

“Manila is a dead city; no factories.”

To businessmen: “After the news (coverage), text your complaints. I have a bullet prepared (for the bad guys). Just do your business, I will protect you. Just talk to Lopez (DTI) and Dominguez (DOF).”

“I want my country to be like Davao. Go out, eat durian at 2 a.m., nothing will happen to you.”

To critics representing international agencies: “They cannot be brighter than me. I will play with you. I will give you entertainment.”

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