Noynoy Aquino to skip Duterte’s SONA for 3rd time

Mara Cepeda
Noynoy Aquino to skip Duterte’s SONA for 3rd time
Vice President Leni Robredo, who belongs to the Liberal Party like ex-president Noynoy Aquino, says she will attend President Rodrigo Duterte's 3rd State of the Nation Address

MANILA, Philippines – For the 3rd year in a row, former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will be a no-show at President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

This was confirmed to Rappler on Monday, July 16, by the House of Representatives’ Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau, which also handles the committee on invitations for Duterte’s 3rd SONA on July 23

“The SONA committee on invitations received a non-confirmation of attendance from the former president on May 17,” a committee representative told Rappler in a phone call. 

Aquino had also skipped Duterte’s first and second SONAs, saying he prefers to watch the speech on television so he could concentrate on what Duterte would say rather than on the comments of the people he would be seated with.

Back in June, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales indicted Aquino for usurpation of legislative powers in the Disbursement Acceleration Program case. Several complaints have also been filed against the ex-president over the implementation of the now-suspended dengue vaccination program during his term. 

Following tradition and protocol, former presidents have been invited to Duterte’s 3rd SONA before the joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa.

Other personalities invited include Vice President Leni Robredo, incumbent lawmakers, lawmakers’ spouses, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, members of the diplomatic corps, and other special guests.

Former presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, now Manila mayor, already confirmed their attendance. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is also expected to attend the SONA, as she is currently Pampanga 2nd District representative.

Ex-Senate presidents Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, and Manny Villar as well as former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr will also be present.

Robredo, Aquino’s party mate in the Liberal Party, already said in a press conference on July 10 that she will attend Duterte’s 3rd SONA. 

“I will attend, of course. That’s one of my obligations as Vice President,” Robredo said in Filipino on the same day she declared that she will lead and unite the opposition. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.