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Notes on SONA 2017: President Duterte on Change and Everything Else

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President Rodrigo Duterte delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon, July 24. Here are our quick notes on the things we saw and the things that the President said.

1| Grade-A theme. For President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address (SONA), the theme is "A comfortable life for all." Now, who doesn't want that? It's positive and a more proactive variation of another politician's highly popular campaign tagline, "Gusto ko happy ka (I want you to be happy)."

2| Effigy extravaganza. "Groups like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) paraded on an effigy of President Duterte leading a blood-spattered military tank featuring the effigies of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and of Uncle Sam, which the group said was a representation of 'political and economic repression' under the administration," reports Jhoanna Ballaran on Inquirer.net.

3| Awesome first words. "Kindly sit down. Thank you for your courtesy," Duterte told the audience before he formally he began his SONA. There's nothing like being polite to break the ice—especially in preparation for a raging fire.

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4| Illegal drugs are the root of all evil. President Duterte reiterated, "The fight against illegal drugs will continue." He also asked everyone to join him in the fight against "all forms of criminality."

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5| Military morale. Duterte declared, "As President, I am reiterating my unwavering support and commitment to the Armed Forces and police force." This statement may come in handy to boost the spirits of soldiers and police officers amid all the accusations hurled against them.

6| Pro-life pronouncement. Discussing the situation in Marawi City and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, Duterte assured everyone, "It is not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living that we seek."

7| Keep the change. In keeping with the tagline that powered his campaign, President Rodrigo declared, "Change has to be meaningful. It should start with those occupying the highest positions of government."

8| Ted's achievement. Duterte commended ABS-CBN New newsman Ted Failon for his eye-opening Failon Ngayon feature on the adverse effects of irresponsible mining. It's worth noting that Failon may have been the only journalist who got a favorable review in the SONA.

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9| Speech ditched. At some point in his SONA, Duterte chucked his prepared speech and switched to his trademark stream-of-consciousness style. As we know by now, Duterte is in his element when he's left to say what he wants. Thankfully, he didn't curse...much.


10| No love for De Lima or human rights advocates. Addressing human rights groups and advocates, Duterte castigated them for being supposedly sympathetic to the plight of Sen. Leila de Lima. He asked, "Is she a credible woman?" He also added, "Can she be a moral person?" He also slammed the human rights groups for getting in the way of his mission to stamp out criminality in the country.

11| Red alert. Duterte lambasted the "reds" and even had some kind of revelation about exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) founder Jose Maria Sison having colon cancer. Wait, aren't they supposed to be friends?

12| Clap collective. There were definitely several moments in the SONA which didn't warrant enthusiastic clapping. Nevertheless, there it was.

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13| Deus ex machina. Despite his anti-Chirch pronouncements and claims that he is an atheist, Duterte still has a soft spot for the Guy Upstairs. He ended his SONA with this: "May God keep us forever sheltered in the halo of his arms." Well, amen to that. May God, indeed, help us all.

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