“Uniquely Duterte”- President redefining SONA history, says analysts on Duterte’s 4th SONA


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte is redefining the State of the Nation Address (SONA) as Filipinos know it with the way he delivers his own SONA, according to analysts who studied the President’s fourth SONA on Monday, July 22.

During Eagle Broadcasting Corporation’s (EBC) special coverage of the President’s SONA, historian and De La Salle university professor Van Ybiernas and Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Tonisito Umali explained how President Duterte had changed the SONA landscape with his speeches that speak directly to the Filipino people.

“As I said, ni-re-redefine ni Pangulong Duterte kung ano ang State of the Nation Address. This is not the same as the State of the Nation Addresses of previous presidents,” Ybiernas noted.

Duterte is even redefining the “whole presidency,” he said.

“Pagpasok ni President Duterte, ni-rearrange na yung entire landscape to fit his (leadership) style,” Ybiernas observed.

He said that a lot of people might be struggling with this initially, but that “little by little”, they’re getting used to the Duterte style.

“I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, because nag-iisa lang naman si Duterte. Anong mangyayari sa mga institutions natin if Duterte is no longer President, kung ni-rearrange na niya nang ganyan yung landscape,” Ybiernas explained.

He said that in Duterte’s fourth SONA, the President was simply “talking to the Filipino people.”

“He’s simply taking to the Filipino people, and audience lang ang Congress, the whole government firmament, if you want to be strict about it, pati nga ang (even the) diplomatic corps,” Ybiernas observed.

“It’s uniquely Duterte, just like yung SONA, very unique.  (I have) not seen anything like it before,” he said.

Umali explained that Duterte has his own style of SONA where he wants to talk directly to the Filipino people.

He noted how the President even challenged the Filipino public to make a scene if they encounter any corrupt personnel or official.

-Pattern in Duterte’s SONA-

Umali noted a pattern in Duterte’s SONA where he also makes comments and gives his own views on issues, specifically what he had already achieved, and what he wants to achieve in the remainder of his term.

“Over-all, I would say typical ng ating Pangulo. Maganda po ang naging SONA ng ating Pangulo,” he said.

Umali said it was telling how President Duterte answered critics of his handling of the West Philippine Sea issue.

“In the end, he said the West Philippine Sea is ours, no ifs, no buts. Klarong klaro. (Very clear),” Umali said of Duterte’s SONA speech.

Umali said that this should put to rest what critics are saying that the President was relinquishing rights to the West Philippine Sea.

-Federalism not mentioned in SONA-

Umali, Ybiernas and even EBC anchors Nelson Lubao and EBC President Rowena dela Fuente noted how President Duterte seemed not to have mentioned federalism in his SONA.

This could be very telling, they said, of the President’s priorities.

Even the issue of charter change was not mentioned.

It was Lubao who pointed out first how the issue of federalism seemed not to have been mentioned at all by the President in his one-hour-and-a-half long SONA.

“Napaka-telling kung bakit hindi ito nabanggit ng Pangulo,” Ybiernas said.

During the discussion analyzing SONA’s speech, they also pointed out how Duterte was not really dictating on Congress on what they should do.

Unlike previous presidents who have a detailed list of what they really want Congress to do, Duterte’s style was not like this.

“In short, what I’m trying to empasize is mukhang iba ang management style ng president. Iba ang relationsip style niya with Congress,” he said.

“Magugulat ka na lang, ang daming output na lumalabas galing Kongreso, ang daming lumalabas na batas,” Ybiernas said.

They also noted the President’s no-nonsense style in implementing decisions that seemed impossible to accomplish at first, citing as an example the clean-up of Boracay.

In this regard, Duterte’s long years of experience as a city mayor before he became President made a difference, Umali and Ybiernas observed.