MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday has gained applause from members of the 17th Congress, diplomatic corps and other guests who attended the occasion.
Spectators to the event clapped 77 times at President Duterte’s first SONA, which lasted for more than one and a half hours.
The first SONA of his predecessor, former President Benigno S. Aquino III, was applauded 32 times in 2010.
On the sidelines of his SONA, the President cracked some jokes which added a little humor to the formal ambiance of the occasion.
The President was highly applauded for his plans and programs particularly on the war against crime and illegal drugs, quality of government services, infrastructure development, decongestion of vehicular traffic in Metro Manila and the improvement of telecommunications in the country, particularly the provision of a free wi-fi access in various public places.
Most of the applause that the President received also came when he mentioned plans for big-budget projects such as the Mindanao Rail Project, upgrading of the state-run TV station, PTV-4, extending the validity of passports from five to 10 years, and extending of the validity of driver’s license from three to five years, to name a few.
At around 3:40 p.m. on Monday, the President arrived at the Batasang Pambansa and met with some Congress officials before proceeding to the Session Hall to deliver his first SONA.
Staying true to his word, President Duterte did not blame the previous administrations when he gave his first SONA and instead focused on his 10-point agenda.
This includes the drive for Constitutional change to allow a shift to a federal form of government, fight against illegal drugs, the ruling on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and the comprehensive tax package, among others.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said that the President’s speech is 38 minutes long not including adlibs and applause.
Andanar also said that Duterte’s SONA “will awaken the patriot in every Filipino.”
President Duterte delivered his first SONA with a signed Executive Order on Freedom of Information (FOI) that would boost his promised anti-corruption campaign.
Folk singer Bayang Barrios from Agusan del Sur was chosen to sing the Philippine National Anthem at President Duterte’s first SONA. Benjamin Nathaniel Bondoc and Azer Parrocha/PNA/northboundasia.com