Former lawmaker from Davao on SONA: ‘I wanted to puke’

Patricia Sarenas, a former party-list congresswoman from Davao minced no words as she ranted about President Rodrigo Duterte’s 6th and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26.

“I wanted to puke,” said Sarenas who once served as the representative of the party-list group Abanse Pinay.

She said the longest SONA delivered by a President in post-1986 Edsa Revolution history was a speech mixed with repartee and ad-libs in between.

“I’ve sat through many SONAs while I was in Congress, and all of the six SONAs of President Noy (Benigno Simeon Aquino III) because former representatives got to be invited to attend. ’Sus, grabe ang layo! (Jesus, this one’s off tangent!)” she said.

Sarenas served for two office terms in the House of Representatives during the 11th and 12th Congresses starting in 1998.

She said SONAs during the Estrada, Arroyo, and Aquino administrations were “always delivered decently and with confidence.” 

Sarenas added: “Ito naman, kaloka ang delivery. Kulang sa delivery. Kulang pa sa substance. Bad form pa talaga. Shame.” [It was poorly delivered. It lacked substance, and was bad form.]

She said it sounded like it was delivered by two people because Duterte “saunters in and saunters out of the prepared speech.”

Sarenas said it was when Duterte joked and made what sounded to her like sexist innuendoes that she felt like throwing up.

One was when Duterte said, “You know, just allow me a little bit of your time. Wala naman siguro kayong lakad ngayon (You're not going anywhere, are you?), unless na you want to… unless you have this appointment with… I’m sure hindi babae (not with a woman) ’yan. That would be a sexist statement. But kung nagmamadali talaga, halos tumatakbo, babae ’yan. Kung naglalakad lang nang natural, medyo less important ’yan. Ganoon ’yan pero dito, wala.”

(But if you're rushing, like you're running, surely it's to meet a woman. If you're just walking in a natural manner, then that a less important matter. That's the way it is. But not here.)

Zamboanga thanks Duterte

In Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar merely said that “it is best to focus on working to serve the people” when asked about what she thought of Duterte’s SONA. 

She also said she was grateful for the Duterte administration’s support for her city’s development. There was no mention of Zamboanga City or the Zamboanga Peninsula region in Duterte’s speech.

The city’s vice mayor, Rommel Agan, said he was happy to hear Duterte briefly discussing the need for a comprehensive tax law reform, his government’s infrastructure accomplishments, and his proposal to create a new department to focus on the concerns of overseas Filipino workers. 

“I am also happy with the improvement of salaries among uniformed personnel. That’s long overdue,” Agan said

Some in Marawi disappointed

In the neighboring Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Parliament member Zia Alonto Adiong said he was glad that Duterte gave out clear instructions to the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFMB) to speed up the rehabilitation work in Marawi, a city destroyed by the 2017 Marawi siege.

“I would have wanted to hear him dwell more on how to ensure this instruction by asking Congress to secure, and prioritize an allocation of dedicated and special funding for the said rehabilitation,” Adiong said.

Adiong said the rehabilitation efforts should not face any delays in the future. 

“This is on top of our call for the enactment of the Marawi Compensation Bill,” Adiong said.

Drieza Lininding, convenor of Moro Consensus Group, criticized Duterte for “failing the Bangsamoro big time.” 

“It’s as if the fate of the more than 100,000 displaced is not that important and urgent. We have been displaced for more than 4 years. Our losses are the price that we are still paying for his military adventurism. Marawi is not a joke,” said Lininding. –

Frencie Carreon

Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.