SONA 2018: Key Points and Highlights - The Daily Sentry

Monday, July 23, 2018

SONA 2018: Key Points and Highlights

President Rodrigo Duterte, photo from GMA News
President Rodrigo Duterte 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) was held today, July 23, at the Batasang Pambansa.

The Mindanaon President’s 14-page speech was delivered within almost 50 minutes. Started at around 5:20 PM, the SONA ended at 6:10 PM. Commendable enough, the tough-talking president’s recent speech was expletive-free.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier revealed that this year’s SONA was different from the traditional SONAs in the past. This is due to the fact that its focus was the President’s goal-setting for the Philippines in the next 12 months instead of the achievements garnered in the previous years, a thing that is usual among his predecessors

Below were the highlights of this year’s State of the Nation Address:


It is not new to us that in every SONA, the outfits of the politicians and their plus ones have always been one of the things that are anticipated by the public as they enter Batasang Pambansa. Aside from, of course, the President’s speech.

Some of the few notables were Sen. Chiz Escudero and his wife Heart Evangelista, apart fro Sen. Nancy Binay who sported her Randy Ortiz-made blue Filipiniana.


For those who do not now, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) aims to aid the long-time problem between the Moros and the militant groups Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It can be recalled that long before the 2018’s SONA even began, the House of Representatives already held the session for the bill to be signed. Unfortunately, the bill was not ratified.

Palace said the people may rest assured that the President will sign the BOL once both houses of Congress ratifies such.


Using the hashtag SONA ng Bayan (People’s SONA), various groups of activists and protesters opposing the incumbent president kept on posting their streets activities as they perform the demonstration raising their concerns and complaints, hoping that Pres. Duterte will respond.

The NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar, mentioned that there were 15,000 anti-Duterte protesters present while 9,000 people were all Duterte supporters, also rallying their support to the president on the streets.


Prior the SONA even began, a bit of tension filled the hall of the Batasang Pambansa. This, after a commotion happened soon after the Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo replaced Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Obtaining a vote of the majority, the former president immediately sworn as the new House Speaker.

According to Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo, there have been a total of 161 lawmakers who voted in favor of Alvarez’s removal and Arroyo’s appointment as the new Speaker. Another 14 lawmakers,on the other hand, abstained from voting – 12 Liberal Party lawmakers, Quimbo himself included as well as Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin.

Arroyo is the first ever female to hold the position of being a House Speaker in Philippine History. With this, she is now the 21st House of Representatives Speaker.
ex-PGMA and the former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, photo from ABS-CBN

As the president himself made clear to the Filipino public, the war against illegal dr*gs is far from over, making his administration's campaign against illegal dr*gs not “sidelined” but instead, relentlessly continued by the government to eliminating illegal dr*gs in the country.

Along with this, President Duterte lashed out at human rights groups that throws false accusations against the current status of his dr*g war blitzkrieg, leading the 73-year-old president to say that human rights groups’ should focus on “human rights”, while he will focus on “human lives”.


In the beginning of his talk about the undying corruption of the government officials, the president began saying, “Corruption must stop”.

Calling out the offices in the government with illegal practices, he warned them to change their ways by correcting their current illicit acts, otherwise, they must resign. He also said he will catch those who steal public funds. He also added that the Filipinos deserve better government service.


Assuring people that he will ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 48 hours, President Duterte is set to put an end on the long-time war in the Mindanao island between militants and Moros. The president even cracked a joke and said, “babasahin ko muna baka may isiningit kayo diyan.”

In this regard,the latter made a promise that the terrorist group ISIS will never gain authority in the country.


The firebrand president did guarantee that despite of the current situation in the disputed islands, China will not take over our seas, particularly the West Philippine Sea. Neverthless, he noted that our giant neighbor  helped the country in our war against illegal dr*gs.


As the president consistently says, and takes action on, the welfare of our modern-day heroes or Overseas Filipino Workers will be taken care of.

“I am a worker of government. And it is my vow to make sure that your (OFWs) well-being remain our foremost foreign policy concern,” he said.

Pres. Duterte again declared that he is still for ending contractualization in the country, promising that he would do whatever it takes just to provide the Filipinos better career choices.


The decision of the Boracay (the leading tourist destination in the country) closure to public to rehabilitate its damaged nature last April 26 “marks the beginning of a new national effort”.

He also advised Local Government Units (LGUs) to enforce the laws in a stringent approach. He also said that the protection of the environment must be a top priority.


In hopes to restore our nature resources for the country's future generation, he told the mining industry, again and for the "last time", to refrain from doing open-pit mining. This is because it destroys the environment just as it destroyed a number of water resources. Futhermore, he said to them that they need to repair what they have damaged in the past as he will enforce radical reforms in the mining industry.


Amid the confusion to many anent this matter, he announced that the TRAIN law has already helped the poor. President Duterte said that no amount can help if businesses take advantage of the government’s plans, even though P149M worth of subsidies have already been given to the people. That is where he said, “I am committed to a comprehensive tax reform,” the President said.

Stressing the need of lowering rice prices,  Duterte said “Stop messing with the people”.


Unknown to some, the government has been investing in healthcare for several years already. Similar to other countries, Pres. Duterte envisions that a nationwide healthcare support system will be implemented to provide quality healthcare services to every Filipino.“I urge the swift passage of the Universal Health Care Bill”, he said.

In this year's SONA, the President surprisingly did not thrown even just a single curse, and garnered 32 rounds of applause from the crowd.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, photo from South China Morning Post