MANILA – The fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte to be delivered on July 22 will be “short”, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“I asked him (Duterte) about the SONA this morning, he said ‘Oh, it will be short’. Yun na nga exact words niya(Those were his exact words),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo explained that the fourth SONA will be short, similar to last year’s, because there have been three pre-SONAs previously held, which already discussed the administration’s achievements.

“Maybe (it will be short) because there are pre-SONAs e. There are three pre-SONAs already,” Panelo said.

“Ordinarily, the President will be discussing achievements of his administration on a particular year and since the pre-SONAs are already doing that, so I do not think the President will have to repeat that,” he added.

Pre-SONA forums have been held in Manila (July 1) and Cebu City (July 10). The third and last pre-SONA forum will be held in Davao City on July 17.

Asked how long the SONA would last, Panelo quipped: “Usually pag short, dalawang oras ‘yun e (when he means short, it’s two hours).”

During his third SONA last year, Duterte kept his promise to deliver a short address, which lasted for about 48 minutes and was free from the usual expletives present in his first two SONAs.

Duterte’s first SONA lasted for 90 minutes while his second SONA lasted for 120 minutes.

However, his third SONA was delayed for over an hour due to a change in the leadership of the House of Representatives, where former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replaced Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte earlier warned that there may be another coup for the House speakership despite the recent agreement among the three top contenders for the post. However, the President dismissed his son’s remark.

Duterte earlier announced that he will endorse Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for House Speaker under a term-sharing arrangement, while Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez agreed to be House Majority Leader.

On July 8, Duterte bared that he may “educate” the public during his fourth SONA on the constitutionality of the verbal fishing agreement he entered into with Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2016 in his fourth SONA.

The agreement between the two leaders allows the Chinese to fish within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), for as long as China will allow Filipinos to fish in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

According to Duterte, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, which recognizes the Philippines’ rights over the EEZ, China will still insist in owning the majority of the disputed waters.

The SONA, which is delivered by the President of the Philippines every year, is a constitutional obligation, required by Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution. (PNA)

By Azer Parrocha  July 16, 2019, 5:12 pm