By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos and Francis T. Wakefield
President Duterte reports to the nation today his second State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), which Malacañang said will be “frank, challenging, realistic, but hopeful.”
“The President’s address will be rendered in broad strokes, reviewing past achievements, stating the present situation and announcing future prospects,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday afternoon.
The theme of the SONA is: “A Comfortable Life for All.”
It is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. and will be aired live on PTV-4, the Presidential Communications Facebook page, and RTVM YouTube channel.
Abella said Duterte’s speech is written in English and should take approximately 50 minutes if read straight. But Malacañang is anticipating that the President will go off-course and deliver impromptu remarks.
“Given that there will be pauses for applause and off-the-cuff remarks, the speech may take about an hour and 30 minutes,” Abella said.
Earlier, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said that Duterte wanted his written speech to be direct to the point and not take more than 50 minutes.
The draft speech was originally 38 pages but was reduced to only 23 and may even be trimmed down to just 15 to 18 pages, considering the President’s estimated reading speed of three minutes per page.
He said the speech would mention the administration’s achievements and the pressing matters being addressed.
“Lahat ng mga importanteng polisiya ng ating Pangulo. Of course, droga mababanggit diyan, iyong sitwasyon ngayon sa Mindanao, and ang mahalaga dito ay direct to the point (All important policies of the President will be tackled, Of course, illegal drugs and the current situation in Mindanao will be mentioned. What’s important is it is direct to the point),” Andanar said.
He said that if Duterte does make off-the-cuff remarks and speak in a mix of English, Filipino, and Bisaya, the remarks would be from the President’s heart.
“Kumbaga (It’s like) the fire in his heart becomes words or becomes part of the impromptu [speech]. [Pwedeng] hahaba talaga siya hanggang 60 minutes (It can really stretch to an hour),” he said.
Andanar said there are other things that need adjustments including the speed of the teleprompter and the lights that may be too bright for the President.
Meanwhile, Abella said Duterte’s speech will be made available online shortly after its delivery.
The PCOO said Duterte is expected to arrive at the Batasan at around 3:30 p.m. and accorded arrival honors to be led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año.
Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, along with a welcoming committee, will meet the President at the main door and lead him to the Legislators’ Lounge, where the President is paid a courtesy call by the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, before proceeding to the Plenary Hall for the joint session of Congress.
During the speech
During the broadcast of the SONA, the hashtag #DuterteSONA2017 will be used for social media postings.
The PCOO hired language interpreters for those with auditory impairment. Spanish, French, German, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese interpreters are also provided for the diplomats present during the event.
An English translator is on standby to interpret the President’s vernacular lines for attending foreign dignitaries.
Meanwhile, a technical report titled “President’s Report to the People” will be uploaded online. Printed copies will be distributed to selected schools, embassies, government offices, and other institutions following the event.
According to the PCOO, stricter security measures are to be enforced in anticipation of all possible threats. A no-fly zone, which includes drones, will be in effect during the SONA.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that an “adequate number” of military personnel are deployed to address any possible threats that could disrupt the SONA.
“So far we have not monitored any threat. But as a standard answer, we are not really about the presence of threat or not,” said AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo. But the military is not taking any chances, he said.
The National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) will deploy 6,000 police officers for the event. These include the Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) units and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
“The figure is 50 percent higher than last year’s 4,000 policemen. No batons, shields, or firearms, however, will be used by CDM cops who are tasked to manage protests,” the PCOO said.
Chief Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, QCPD director, said more or less 20,000 people are expected near the vicinity of Batasan Complex as rallies and protest activities related to the SONA roll out.
He said he expects these mass actions to be peaceful and orderly.
Other groups supporting the police force include the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Emergency personnel and ambulances are on standby.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), meanwhile, will deploy approximately 2,000 traffic enforcers to manage the flow of traffic. MMDA’s number-coding remains in effect and a traffic rerouting plan will be published.
Eleazar said the public is therefore advised to take note of the following suggested alternate routes.
For northbound motorists, he said, they may take the first alternate route from EDSA by turning right on Congressional Avenue, left on Mindanao Avenue, right to Old Sauyo Road, then left to Chestnut Road, and right again on Dahlia Street, then left to Fairlane and then left to Commonwealth Avenue.
The second alternate route is from Quezon Memorial Circle via North Avenue, right to Mindanao Avenue, right to Old Sauyo Road then turn left to Chestnut Street, right turn to Dahlia, then left at Fairlane Street. From Fairlane, left turn to Commonwealth Avenue.
Alternate route 3 is also from Quezon Memorial Circle via Visayas Ave. Motorists may turn left on Tandang Sora Avenue, turn right to Mindanao Avenue, right to Old Sauyo Road then left to Chestnut Street and right to Dahlia Street, then left to Fairlane street and left to Commonwealth Avenue
For southbound motorists coming from Commonwealth Avenue, right turn at Fairlane Street then right at Dahlia Street, then left at Chestnut Street, then right to Old Sauyo Road, then left to Mindanao Avenue and on to EDSA.
At 8 a.m. July 24, 2017, IBP Road eastbound shall be partially closed from Filinvest 1 to Sinagtala to give way to the activities of rallyists and demonstrators.
Normal flow of traffic is expected to resume at 6 p.m.
With his honeymoon period with his critics long over, the President will now face a more hostile crowd of militants as he delivers his second SONA.
Still outraged by the decision of lawmakers yesterday to prolong up to the end of the year the martial law in Mindanao, militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said it will join the mass protest today to oppose Duterte’s “looming authoritarian rule.”
“On Monday, Duterte’s second SONA, thousands of Filipino workers will march to Batasan to condemn the extension of martial law and assert our legitimate demands for a genuine national democratic change,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.
This is in contrast to last year during Duterte’s first SONA, where KMU and other militants groups held demonstrations to support the government.
Labog said the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, which is heavily supported by Malacañang, is a threat to the country’s democracy.
Pocket protests are also expected in Manila, particularly in Mendiola, Liwasang Bonifacio, Chino Roces Bridge, and Welcome Rotonda before the groups proceed to Quezon City.
Manila Police District (MPD) Director Joel Coronel said police are prepared to keep the streets safe and orderly, while Mayor Joseph Estrada called on Filipinos to continue supporting the President especially as government forces continue to battle rebels in Marawi City.
De Lima’s view
Senator Leila de Lima said she could only expect Duterte to brag about his fake achievements in his second SONA.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center over allegations she is involved in illegal drugs, said she expects nothing but a fresh litany on killings and more lies.
“What will he brag about during the SONA? The killings? The lies? Let me remind him that he has already gone beyond his self-imposed three- to six-month deadline that he promised during his campaign,” De Lima said in an interview with reporters before her trial at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court last week.
Duterte, she noted, won due to his promise to end criminality and put a stop to illegal drugs within six months. Yet, a year after assuming power, crimes still exist and his administration’s war on drugs yielded murders.
House leaders are counting on the President to lay down his concrete policies and programs to address the country’s transport and security crisis by pushing for the passage of the National Transport System bill and the implementation of a national ID system.
Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) party list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said his party wants the traffic congestion in Metro Manila addressed, pinning hopes that Duterte tackles the National Transport System bill.
Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles expect the President to take swift action on the traffic crisis gripping the country, with the latter also pushing for the universal ID system.
“In relation to security issues, the passage of the bill on National ID system will help our nation greatly,” Tugna said.
Tambunting also urged the President to shepherd the approval of the long-delayed Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
For his part, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, a stalwart of the Nacionalista Party (NP),expressed no doubt that the President would “push for the welfare of Filipino nation by pursuing better changes and making things done right, better and faster under his more people-centered government.”
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, a registered nurse and a vice chairperson of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, said she expects Duterte to continue giving Filipinos a message of hope, encouragement, and determination to effect the necessary reforms in the country.
Not a fashion show
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said yesterday that the SONA is not about fashion, rather about the fulfillment of campaign promises.
As such, Santos reminded lawmakers not to lose sight of the importance of today’s event. “We don’t look for appearances but we are after performances,” he said.
The prelate said people will rate the performance of the government based on the following: provision of their basic needs, peace and security, stable and secure jobs for all and traffic solution.
As head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, Santos expressed hope that he will get to hear in the President’s speech the creation of the Department for OFWs as what he previously promised. (With reports from Charissa M. Luci-Atienza, Samuel P. Medenilla, Hannah L. Torregoza, Leslie Ann G. Aquino, and Jaimie Rose R. Aberia)