WE must thank Heaven that President Rody Duterte did not make good his threat or joke weeks before he assumed office that he would scrap the SONA tradition. At that time people thought he really would. After all, he had scrapped being proclaimed as the elected President of the Philippines in Malacañang. But he probably rejected that because if he didn’t, he would have to be in a formal proclamation ceremony with Vice President Leni Robredo, who belongs to the “enemy” party and who, during the campaign, had given speeches lambasting candidate Duterte and promoting the lie that the Aquino administration was the best we had ever had, and that it was imperative for the Filipinos, if they really wanted the best for our country, to elect Mar Roxas against Rody Duterte.
Duterte gave an inspiring, entertaining and unconventional state-of-the-nation address.
It was unconventional because the speech did not even attempt to use words and phrases that would make the address sound like a description of the current social, economic and developmental condition of our country. Well, he did say, “When I decided to seek the presidency of this Republic, I knew what the ills of our country were; I knew their causes; and I was briefed on who caused the causes.”
And he also said, “We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from.
“Except maybe to extract a lesson or two from its errors, we will not tarry back because it is the present that we are concerned with and the future that we should be prepared for.”
Which prepared the audience for the inspiring messages he soon gave and the astonishing announcements he made.
He has unilaterally declared a ceasefire in the war with “the CPP-NPA-NDF effective immediately.” He said, “I expect and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly. That is my goal, that is my dream.”
And he articulated what the people—including, we suppose the communists—should say in response to his wonderful gesture, to wit: “The Commander in Chief has initiated a very bold move and we fully support him in his effort to bring sustainable and lasting peace to our whole country. The government has shown its sincerity and we expect no less from the other party.”
Duterte’s first SONA is also unconventional in being the only one, we think, that ever referred to the human-rights cause from the viewpoint of the law-and-order militants, the military and the police. These complain that the rebels who kill and maim government soldiers and the police often find protection from human-rights activists. In support of the military, the police and other law-enforcement agencies, Duterte said, “Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country.”
Almost all sections of this SONA contain memorable, noteworthy and stirring passages filled with profound, patriotic, thoughts. Perhaps, the most significant—in that it proclaims the President’s belief in a Supreme Being like almost all Filipinos and seems to undo his words against churchmen, religious people and the Catholic Church—is this passage: “Let me assure you that while I’m a stickler for the principle of separation between the Church and State, I believe quite strongly that there should never be a separation between God and State.”