Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be delivering his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) today. Since Duterte is enjoying a trust rating of 91% — the highest rating among presidents on their first month — we can expect a lot of Filipinos all over the world to be tuned in to watch and listen to Duterte deliver his speech outlining the Philippines’ present economic, political, and social condition. The public is also expecting him to summarize the accomplishments and plans of his program of government.
Beyond Duterte’s actual speech, many people are looking forward to being entertained, because past SONAs have become a joke. In the last six years, SONAs became more about the dresses the women politicians were wearing and less about the problems that needed to be addressed. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives shamelessly paraded their million-peso attires and sought to outdo each other. Some, like Senator Nancy Binay even had a change of costume in the previous SONA and some wore backless dresses. They were trying to outshine each other making like they were supermodels while millions of Filipinos were hungry.
Yes, the SONA during former President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s term became a circus. His claim that he is simple did not match the reality. The excesses during BS Aquino’s term are comparable to the excesses of previous administrators. It didn’t help that his celebrity sister Kris Aquino was always around to turn the event into a spectacle. The absence of Kris Aquino alone will be an improvement to the event, indeed.
Duterte’s SONA will be a simple and more formal event unlike in the past. Members of Congress and other guests are expected to attend in their business attire. This is bad news for narcissists in Congress but good news for the Filipino public. If decadence and self-indulgence was promoted during BS Aquino’s term, simplicity and decency will be promoted by Duterte.
One thing’s for sure, the public will not hear about Ninoy, Cory, and their so-called “legacy”. The public will not hear about the “dark years” of Martial Law and how BS Aquino’s family supposedly suffered under the Marcos regime. The Public will not have to listen to BS Aquino blaming former President Gloria Arroyo over and over. More importantly, the public will not have to put up with BS Aquino talking about his supposed “achievements” which usually means taking credit for something his predecessor initiated. It was unfortunate that every year in the last six years, BS Aquino did not fail to spew the same formulaic drivel. No wonder the voters finally got sick of him.
BS Aquino’s supporters like his cousin, Senator Bam Aquino and that other ‘senator’ convicted putschist Antonio Trillanes are also anticipating Duterte’s first SONA. They hope that Duterte will tackle other problems and not just his war on drugs. They should talk. They should have asked BS Aquino to stop mentioning his parents and talk more about his policies around dealing with crime. BS Aquino did not even have a policy on how to deal with drugs. His government allegedly allowed criminal gangs and drug lords to run the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. There are reports saying former Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima regularly rubbed elbows with convicted drug lords. There are photos of her circulating on the Net mingling and partying with them. The prison had become a drug lab where drug lords run their operation. This happened under the watch of BS Aquino.
Frankly, BS Aquino and his supporters have lost their moral high ground. They should lie low and think twice about criticizing Duterte’s policies because they already had their turn but failed to deliver results. It is probably taking a while for them to realize that they are not in power anymore. They had six years to fix the problems or at least address it, but they didn’t. Now it is someone else’s turn and he’s got his own policies to implement. They may or may not work but it is too early to say it will or it won’t. The best thing for BS Aquino’s supporters to do is to remain vigilant, but stop spreading misinformation just to derail Duterte’s projects. Trillanes is Number One when it comes to doing disruptive things. He has a penchant for throwing false accusations against his rivals. Good thing he had lost his credibility to the public.
What’s also ironic is how some people, mostly Liberal Party supporters who campaigned strongly for losing Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, are asking what Duterte has so far accomplished. Instead of asking Duterte three weeks into his Presidency, they should be asking BS Aquino what he has accomplished after six years at the helm. Liberal Party supporters seem to have lost their grip on reality. They cry foul at reports of alleged drug pushers and drug lords being killed during a raid but they do not cry for the victims of the drug epidemic and how Philippine society is slowly descending into chaos because of the proliferation of illegal drugs. These are the same people who were quiet about extrajudicial killings during Aquino’s time — like when the Lumads were being slaughtered allegedly by people who were said to be working for the military. I do not condone extrajudicial killings but the war on drugs was never going to be peachy. There is an urgency to nip the problem in the bud before the country turns into another Mexico.
Speaking of accomplishments. Duterte just signed an executive order on Freedom of Information (FOI). He managed to accomplish that in less than a month. The FOI was something BS Aquino promised to give the Filipino people while campaigning in 2010. He broke that promise. Now Duterte just made Aquino look even more the failure that he is. We can’t really blame Noynoy for planning on not attending the SONA. He’s probably afraid that Duterte will do the same thing he did and blame him for the problems the new government is facing now. It’s a shame the public will not have the pleasure of watching BS Aquino’s face when the camera zooms in while Duterte talks about the enormous problems the former president left behind.