What was supposed to be a 50-minute speech got stretched to nearly two hours as President Rodrigo Duterte at times deviated from his prepared address and delivered impromptu remarks.
Duterte opened his speech with a joke about his days as a representative attending the State of the Nation Address (SONA), talking about how he used to hang out with fellow solons Pantaleon Alvarez, now the House speaker, and Antonio Floirendo Jr.
“But I was always absent together with the Speaker and Tonyboy Floirendo, who is still absent until today. And that started… Ay nandiyan ba [Oh, is he there]? Sorry. But his propensity started almost 17 years ago when we were members of the 11th Congress,” Duterte said.
That set the tone for the rest of his speech, in which he bounced between the prepared text and his off-the-cuff comments.
The President’s address this year touched on his campaign promise to stamp out illegal drugs, corruption and criminality under his watch.
He also stressed the administration’s push for big-ticket infrastructure projects, tax reform, wider autonomy for Muslim Mindanao and a federal form of government, among others.
Former presidents Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, and Joseph Estrada were present during the SONA. Former president Benigno Aquino 3rd did not attend the event, saying he preferred to watch it on television.
Duterte’s family – partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, daughters Sara Duterte-Carpio and Veronica, and sons Paolo and Sebastian, were also present.
After the SONA, Duterte held a dialogue with protesters outside the House of Representatives. He also held a news conference at the Batasang Pambansa to be able to explain to the media the salient points of his speech.
This was the first time a President met rallyists and called a news conference after delivering a SONA.