Sara Duterte to skip her father's 4th SONA

MANILA, Philippines – While Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte was one of the key figures in the drama of last year's State of the Nation Address, she won't be physically present at this year's gathering.

She told Rappler on Wednesday, July 17, she will not be attending the SONA on Monday, July 22.

"No. I am on a special medical leave for 60 days," she said in a message.

She said the medical leave is needed to treat a "gyne" condition or one related to reproductive health.

Sara had attended the past two SONAs of her father.

President Rodrigo Duterte had himself admitted Sara's role in the tumultous SONA last year when then House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was ousted and replaced by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Duterte and lawmakers say Sara had personally called up congressional representatives to cement the leadership change.

Sara never hid her dislike for Alvarez, whom she said was spreading word of a rift between her and her father.

Sara had also been perceived as influential to the speakership race this year. Speaker hopefuls like Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez held meetings with her in the days the contest was heating up.

Sara had also called Velasco and Romualdez the "next speaker" during the May campaign season.

She and her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago eventually officially fielded Davao City congressman Isidro Ungab for the position. But President Duterte has given his blessing to Cayetano, his former foreign secretary and 2016 running mate, to be next speaker.

Sara had claimed Cayetano made a "veiled threat" to her if she endorses Velasco as speaker. Velasco is set to share a term with Cayetano as speaker. –

For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.

Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings: 
Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark 

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at