Panelo sees short SONA but has no idea on content

July 19, 2019
Salvador Panelo

DRUGS, the economy, corruption, terrorism, the West Philippine Sea controversy and the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution seeking to investigate killings in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

These and more are just some of the topics that President Rodrigo Duterte could tackle in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President has yet to discuss the theme of the 4th SONA but noted Duterte would likely skip accomplishments enumerated during pre-SONA forums.

“Short lang, mga two hours. Alam mo naman si Presidente, kapag ginanahan makuwento,” he said.

He said Secretary Martin Andanar’s statement that the President’s SONA might focus on legacy “is just speculation.”

“You cannot read the President pagdating sa ganyang speeches,” he said, adding that Duterte sometimes discards prepared speeches.

He denied that the 4th SONA will be defensive, saying it will be an opportunity to “educate the critics and detractors of the falsity and wrongness of their stand.”

He defended the alleged “nanlaban pattern” seen in police reports to describe the killings of drug suspects who allegedly resisted arrest.

“Assuming na mayroong abuso, mag-file kayo para mapakulong natin...You don’t need a CCTV. Kung mayroon kang testimonial na credible, paniniwalaan ka nang hukuman,” he said when asked about alleged killings conducted by the police.

He also said the President is irked by critics who keep hitting his “verbal agreement” allowing China to fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“Nayayamot lang siya na hindi naiintindihan ng mga critics and detractors ‘yung complexity, parang sini-simplify n’yo lahat ito. Hindi niyo alam na China is in possession at sinabihan na nga ako nang harap-harapan: ‘Huwag kang pumasok diyan at may gulo diyan.’ Kung ikaw Presidente at nagsasalita ‘yung presidente ng isang powerful na bansa, anong gagawin mo? Pagpipilitan mo? That’s reckless,” he said.

“Ang style niya intelligent approach. Practical. Cautious.”

He said the incident wherein a Chinese ship abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen after sinking their boat near Recto (Reed) Bank should also be balanced with the Philippines’ relationship with Beijing.

A Pulse Asia survey, meanwhile, showed Filipinos want the President to tackle salary rates, rising prices of basic goods and jobs in the 4th SONA.

Of 1,200 Filipino adults interviewed, 17.1 percent said they would like to hear Duterte’s views on workers’ pay in his annual speech, while another 17.1 percent wanted to know about the government’s plan on reducing the prices of basic goods, the study showed.

Other topics Filipinos want to hear on July 22 are the creation of jobs or livelihood opportunities (15.2 percent), Manila’s relations with Beijing (9.2 percent), and the assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (6.1 percent.)

The survey was conducted from June 24 to 30, 2019 through face to face interviews. It has an error margin of +/- 2.8 percent and a 95 percent confidence level.