10 Lines That Stood Out From #SONA2020

"Life, after all, is fickle, like the weather."

(SPOT.ph) President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address was, for lack of a better term, a whirlwind. This State of the Nation Address (SONA) was the first of its kind, delivered amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with only a select few in attendance. Duterte reportedly rehearsed his speech twice, and it was expected to last one hour and 20 minutes—"But it’s the President’s prerogative to do ad libs [sic] if he wishes," noted Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar. The final speech clocked in at around one hour and 45 minutes, touching on everything from the ABS-CBN franchise renewal to the creation of a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers, and yes, the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Duterte's 2020 SONA, summarized in 10 of his statements:

"The vaccine is around the corner. Sooner, and not later, the virus that gobbled up thousands of lives, will itself be laid to rest."

Perhaps for the first time, the President did not open with a commentary on his "Drug War." Instead, Duterte opened up with a promise that the vaccine for COVID-19 is "around the corner." He had earlier stated that schools should not open until said vaccine is found. The most optimistic reports state that one could be developed by the end of 2020.

"I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 elections."

The President called out Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for his call to put an end to oligarchies. "Obviously, he was defending the Lopezes," said Duterte, referring to the family at the helm of the ABS-CBN network—the same network whose 25-year franchise was denied by Congress. Early in the battle towards renewing their franchise, it was reported that they had aired a negative ad of Duterte, though the president said that he has accepted their apology. Later on during the SONA, Duterte flat out told Drilon, “You are a hypocrite.”

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"There are people who ask for compassion, but show none themselves."

“There are lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is much easier to destroy than build,” he noted. The president stated that the disease has made it more difficult to assure every Filipino a “comfortable life,” and then added an acute observation: “Life, after all, is fickle, like the weather.”

"Buhay muna bago lahat."

Duterte pointed out that when the pandemic struck, he “decided to prioritize life over all other considerations.” Based on the government’s numbers, around "1.3 million" infections were avoided thanks to the interventions enacted. They aim to have rolled out 1.4 million tests in July with a turnaround of two to three days for results. He also called for civil servants to “Set aside partisan politics and selfish interest to do what is right and good for all.”

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"I made a plea to President Xi Jinping that if they have the vaccine, can they allow us to be one of the first."

Once again stating that he would not allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine is found and distributed, Duterte went off-speech to "mention in passing" a recent dialogue with China's leader Xi Jinping. He stated that he asked for special priority when they do indeed have the vaccine, adding, "Life that is lost is lost forever."

"The patience of the Filipino people is reaching its limit."

Calling out companies that provide services, the President said that consumers were being shortchanged. "Huwag niyo naman kami pahintayin bago namin makamit services that other countries are enjoying," said Duterte. He mentioned that the government will "be forced to take drastic steps" if they do not. 

"Smart, pati itong Globe, ilang taon na ito? At ang sagot palagi sa akin 'The party cannot be reached.' Saan pumunta ang yawa na 'yon?"

Duterte called out telecommunication companies, telling them to “Improve your services before December.” He stated that government should have first priority, “All that is good that belongs to government, whether it be the airwaves, whether it be the lines, or whatever is good for the people will belong to the government.” He told the companies, “You might not want what I intend to do with you,” and added the sure to be oft-quoted line “I want to call Jesus Christ [in] Bethlehem, better have that line cleared.”

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"I did not hear so much clapping, so I presume that they are not interested."

Duterte once again spoke about his goal to have capital punishment reinstated by his administration. But when he mentioned “death penalty by lethal injection,” it seems he wasn’t too happy with the sparse applause it received. He then veered off the prepared speech and spoke of how drugs are to blame for families falling apart and that drug syndicates continue to operate inside penitentiaries. "Talagang binababoy tayo," he said.

"We work without fail to protect our rights in the South China Sea, neither beholden nor a pawn to anyone."

Duterte spoke about how we had broadened “Philippine diplomacy.” To those who say we have done nothing regarding our claims in the West Philippine sea, he said that “unless we are prepared to go to war,” then we had better call off the criticism. “China is claiming it, we are claiming it,” clarified the president, adding that they have “the arms,” and we do not. He also added, "some other president" may be willing to go to war for this dispute but, "Inutil ako diyan and I am willing to admit it. Talagang inutil ako diyan."

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"I am through."

Duterte rounded back to Senator Drilon before somewhat abruptly ending his speech, saying, “To take it against me for protecting my country is something which I really resent.” He talked about oligarchies before reiterating that the government should get the best services. “The best of the transmission lines, whatever, government gets it first.” He then offered a short thank you before clarifying that he was indeed done—with the SONA, that is.

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