President Rodrigo Duterte will use his fourth State of the Nation Address Monday to discuss his promises
to fight corruption, illegal drugs, criminality, and rebellion, as well as his views on the West Philippine Sea, the Palace said Sunday.
The SONA will also be a venue to discuss the administration’s achievements and plans
for the three remaining years in his term, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“The past year has been meaningful and we are all excited [about] what was prepared for tomorrow’s momentous event,” Panelo said in a statement.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also said that it was likely that President Duterte would mention in his speech the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution seeking a probe of alleged human rights violations in the government’s war on drugs.
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A Pulse Asia survey showed that wages, inflation, and jobs are among the top issues Filipinos want to hear from Duterte’s SONA this year.
The survey also showed that Filipinos want Duterte to discuss Beijing-Manila relations against the backdrop of friction in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte had previously said he would “educate” his critics about his decision to allow Chinese fishermen to operate within the Philippines exclusive economic zone, which he said was not unconstitutional.
Maritime law experts like Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former top diplomat Albert del Rosario had slammed Duterte for his decision since the 1987 Constitution states that resources in Philippine waters should be enjoyed exclusively by Filipinos.
Meanwhile, a political analyst warned that if Duterte will publicly justify his decision, the risk of physical harm against Filipino fishermen will increase.
“The Chinese fishermen would think that there’s nothing wrong with poaching in our EEZ since no less than President Duterte has allowed it,” political science professor Dennis Coronacion told the Manila Standard.
But Coronacion said that the public has a right to know the foreign policy decisions of the President, which should “not be formulated in a secretive and exclusive manner.”
While the Palace said earlier that Duterte’s speech will be “short,” the President has been known to go off-topic.
“You know the President. He is very extemporaneous, spontaneous,” Panelo said during a chance interview on Friday.
Duterte’s first SONA lasted for one hour and 32 minutes, while his second address lasted for two hours since he deviated from his prepared speech.
His third SONA last year lasted 48 minutes, as he refrained from cursing and adlibs.
Invited guests for this year’s SONA include Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, members of the diplomatic corps, former presidents, and other special guests.
Former president Benigno Aquino III is set to skip the SONA for the fourth year in a row. But Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition, said she will attend the event.
Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday said she hopes to hear the President address the gut issues that Filipinos face today—including wages, the price of basic goods and jobs and livelihood creation.
The National Capital Region Police Office is all set to provide security for the fourth SONA.
Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, NCRPO director, said they already on full alert with about 14,000 cops ready to ensure peace and order during the SONA.
“All of our operatives tasked to secure the 2019 SONA are in their predeployment positions. They will be moving out 5 a.m. Monday,” Eleazar said.
He said cops will be deployed particularly in areas where anti- and pro-Duterte groups are expected to hold rallies, particularly along Commonwealth Avenue and IBP Road near the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
Eleazar said protest rallies will be allowed “for as long as these are held peacefully.” He added at least 15,000 protesters are expected to hold rallies.
He assured that they have a contingency plan, in coordination with the Presidential Security Group, in case the President decides to face the protesters after delivering his SONA as he did two years ago.
Eleazar said maximum tolerance would be exercised while asking the militant groups to police their ranks. He said no violent dispersal was recorded since Duterte’s first SONA in 2016.
He said 9,162 cops and force multipliers would be sent to secure the vicinity of the Batasang Pambansa.
Police will also secure places of convergence, such as malls and churches, as well as vital installations, terminals, airports, and seaports.
Eleazar also said security will be provided in Mendiola, the US Embassy, and the Edsa Shrine, where rallies are expected during the SONA.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday urged the public to immediately report to authorities any suspicious-looking individuals or activities within their immediate vicinity.
Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, made this appeal ahead of Monday’s SONA.
terrorism and the preservation of peace are a shared responsibility of everyone so we should all do our part in this whole of nation approach towards peace and development,” Detoyato added. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA
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