Duterte ‘more comfortable’ in 2nd SONA

Patty Pasion
Duterte ‘more comfortable’ in 2nd SONA
President Rodrigo Duterte puts some people and institutions on the spot in his SONA 2017

MANILA, Philippines – He cursed more, and the impromptu part of his speech was longer than the prepared one. 

These were indications that President Rodrigo Duterte had become more at ease delivering the State of the Nation Address – his second – compared to last year, Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada Robles said in a roundtable discussion on Monday, July 24.

“He was more comfortable compared to his first SONA. [There was a ] higher number of curse words that he used. It was as if he was giving another speech [and just] reading some parts given by his team,” she said as one of the analysts on Rappler’s SONA panel. 

Robles pointed out how Duterte put people on the spot in his SONA – something he does regularly in his speeches on ordinary days.

Duterte mentioned the United States and China in his speech but in contrasting tones. 

“What stood out to me [is that] it seemed he had no qualms on making the American ambassador embarassed when he mentioned the Balangiga bells, and then when he mentioned the Chinese ambassador, he thanked him,” Robles observed. 

He also put the spotlight on Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial and nd Senator Juan Edgardo Angara.

Ubial was mentioned when he called attention to contraceptives that had expired due to the temporary restraining order imposed by the Supreme Court on the Reproductive Health Law. 

Angara, who chairs the Senate committee on ways and means, was called out and threatened of his chances of reelection if the Senate does not pass the tax reform package as proposed by the executive branch.

In a chance interview after the SONA, Angara said that they have been conducting hearings on the proposal since it was certified as urgent by the executive. 

He, however, dismissed the President’s threat as a half-meant joke. 

Alam mo naman si Presidente, palabiro lagi (You know the President, he likes joking). He asked us to pass it in full, so I’ll have to discuss that with my colleages. Many of [them] have expressed reservations over the tax bill,” he said. 

Baka meron na rin. Baka (Maybe there is a threat. Maybe) if we don’t pass it in full, baka we won’t be in the good graces of the administration,” he added.

Speaking in people’s behalf 

Duterte also hit the media for its unfavorable coverage, and accused Rappler of being owned by Americans – something we had debunked earlier. 

Asked what would be the end goal of his media criticism, Ateneo de Manila University sociologist Dr Jayeel Cornelio said that the President’s supporters do not care if the information is misleading. 

“We cannot deny at the onset that 82% of the Filipinos trust this President. That is very telling…. In as much as there were a lot of cursing here, a lot of misleading information about Rappler, for example, for many of the Filipinos, they are willing to disregard these in view of [the thought] that the President is a bully to the enemies of the state,” he said. 

“If you thematize his speech, for the most part, President Duterte was speaking on behalf of the people,” he added. 

Cornelio said Duterte struck a chord with the public when he talked about corruption in the government’s procurement process and against mining companies, which affect indigenous people. 

Duterte’s second SONA lasted for around two and half hours, longer than his first. 

Rappler social media head Stacy de Jesus said this SONA garnered more impressions than the last one, with 4.9 billion compared to the previous year’s 1.6 billion. 

Rappler’s analytics, however, found that there were less unique authors of the SONA posts at 26,000 versus last year’s 58,000.  

“More people are engaged last year. They may have just been from one community. So a fewer people are posting now but more people are observing it, not really speaking up or engaging,” De Jesus said. – 

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.