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How Duterte's first SONA defied expectations

Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — What was supposed to be a 38-minute speech got stretched to one hour and 40 minutes as President Duterte deviated from his prepared address, delivered several ad libs and opted for a more informal delivery style.

And while Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar claimed to have cried after reading the address, the mood of the event was far from dramatic due to Duterte’s antics and quips.

While delivering his speech, Duterte was heard saying: "Taas mo na 'yan. Wala na 'yan (Bring it up. I'm done with that)" and "Sandali lang 'tol (Wait)."

Duterte was apparently talking to the operator of the teleprompter.

"Ad-libs made it more personal. The president, he has this magic touch with the masses" Andanar said,

Duterte's address, which did not contain profanities, was applauded 93 times. But there was an instance when the president's statement did not seem to draw an enthusiastic response from the audience, which consisted of lawmakers and their guests.

"(We will) relax the bank secrecy laws," Duterte said.

The audience's applause was not that loud and Duterte, who was unapologetic, could only smile about it. "E naging presidente ako e, ayoko sanang makialam sa mga 'to," he said

Even before the start of his address, Duterte created a scene when he shook the hands of Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been critical of his campaign against drugs and crime. He greeted the senator while he was about to climb to the rostrum of the House of Representatives.

The president, however, reportedly made face after the brief encounter with De Lima.

Before starting his speech, Duterte noted that all the three top officials on the platform are from Mindanao. Duterte hails from Davao City, where he served as mayor for 22 years.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is from Davao del Norte while Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III hails from Cagayan de Oro.

All the living former presidents were present during the event except Benigno Aquino III, Duterte's immediate predecessor.

Aquino's first address in 2010 blamed the Arroyo administration for many of the country's ills. He continued to do so until the final months of his administration.

In contrast,  Duterte refused to point fingers for the problems hounding the country, believing it will just be a waste of time.

"We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back.  Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from," Duterte said.

ALSO READ: Things Duterte said in his first SONA

"Except maybe extract a lesson or two from its errors we will not tarry because it is the present that we are concerned with and the future that we should be prepared for," he added.

"Lest I be misunderstood, let me say clearly, that those who betrayed the people's trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in Court. And if the evidence warrants, they will have their day of reckoning too."

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