Palace says Duterte’s fourth SONA to be ‘short’

Published July 16, 2019, 9:48 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

The upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte will just be “short” after his Cabinet members have already highlighted the government’s achievements in pre-SONA events, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“Because I asked him about the SONA this morning. He said, ‘Oh, it will be short,’” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“Ordinarily, the President will be discussing achievements of his administration on a particular year, and since the pre-SONAs are already doing that, so I do not think the President will have to repeat that,” he added.

The President is expected to deliver his fourth SONA before a joint session of Congress on July 22, Monday. The annual address is a venue for the President to highlight his accomplishments for the past year and present his plans for the coming year.

Prior to the SONA, concerned cabinet members conducted two public forums presenting achievements on the economy, infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, and other social protection programs.  The third and last pre-SONA event focused on the government’s environmental protection and peace and order efforts will be held in Davao City on Tuesday.

Last year, the President’s SONA lasted for 48 minutes, considered his shortest so far. Duterte, known for his long impromptu speeches, opted to read an expletive-free speech after a House leadership scuffle delayed the SONA activity.

His 2016 SONA lasted for one and a half hour, while his 2017 speech went on for two hours.

According to Panelo, the President may tackle the West Philippine Sea issue in his forthcoming public address this Monday.

“He will ‘educate’ those critics that say that he’s violating the Constitution,” Panelo said.

Duterte earlier drew criticisms after supposedly allowing China to fish in the country’s territorial waters following a mutual pact with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The verbal deal, forged in 2016, included China’s commitment not to block Filipino fishermen sailing in Panatag Shoal.