SONA 2021

Why were netizens dissatisfied with Duterte’s final SONA?

Gaby Baizas

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Why were netizens dissatisfied with Duterte’s final SONA?
President Duterte's nearly three-hour final SONA leaves Filipinos wanting. Here’s what made netizens frustrated.

Even after Duterte spent a record two hours and 46 minutes on his final State of the Nation Address (SONA), Filipinos online still found themselves largely dissatisfied with what Duterte had to say on Monday, July 26.

Filipinos had their own set of expectations for Duterte’s final SONA – they believed it was about time for the President to own up to his failures and mistakes from the past five years, including his bloody war on drugs, a long list of human rights abuses, and a mismanaged response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Duterte finished his address on Monday, netizens took to social media to express their dissatisfaction with Monday’s event.

#SONA2021 also ranked second on Twitter Philippines’ trending topics list shortly after Duterte finished his address.

Here’s a rundown of the parts of Duterte’s SONA that left netizens scratching heads and raising eyebrows.

The alleged ‘success’ of the drug war

Five years into his administration, Duterte continued boasting about the alleged “success” of his infamous and deadly war on drugs.

What especially ticked netizens off was when Duterte claimed he did not want families to “break up and become dysfunctional” due to illegal drugs.

Filipinos were quick to express their anger over the statement, asserting families have already been broken as many innocent Filipinos were killed in the drug war. 

Others said families have become dysfunctional due to the lack of a concrete pandemic response from the government, or unprocessed trauma and bad parenting.
No more ‘misery’ in public commuting?

Duterte cited recent improvements on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), and claimed his government has “taken away the misery of public commuting.”

Netizens were quick to debunk this by posting photos of crowded stations and sidewalks, filled with commuters waiting for trains, buses, and other public transportation.
Duterte having ‘no problem’ with ABS-CBN

After hurling many threats toward ABS-CBN, Duterte now says he had no problem with the media giant.

ABS-CBN employees and supporters were quick to debunk Duterte’s false claims. They emphasized government officials previously cleared the network over several issues, and that Duterte himself had been attacking the network for years – making him a key player in its shutdown in May 2020. (FALSE: Duterte ‘completely neutral’ on ABS-CBN franchise renewal)

Mr. President, there’s still a pandemic…

It took two hours before President Duterte started discussing the COVID-19 pandemic.

This, even as the Philippines is still enduring one of the longest lockdowns in the world, and is now grappling with several cases of the highly-transmissible Delta variant.

Many netizens were expecting Duterte to focus on the government’s pandemic response, but the President failed to provide any concrete plans in dealing with the Delta variant. He earlier said the country may just have to “pray for salvation.”

As of Monday, the Philippines recorded a total of 1,555,396 COVID-19 cases.

What’s next?

Duterte’s final address also sparked renewed calls to register to vote for the 2022 elections. Personalities and fan accounts alike urged fellow Filipinos to vote wisely and to elect competent leaders for the country’s future.

What did you think of Duterte’s final SONA? –

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Gaby Baizas

Gaby Baizas is a digital forensics researcher at Rappler. She first joined Rappler straight out of college as a digital communications specialist. She hopes people learn to read past headlines the same way she hopes punk never dies.