Palace: Recovery 'roadmap' given in pre-SONA briefings
In this handout photo from the Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2020.
Presidential Communications Operations Office, release

Palace: Recovery 'roadmap' given in pre-SONA briefings

Alexis Romero ( - July 28, 2020 - 5:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday disputed claims that President Rodrigo Duterte had failed to discuss a concrete pandemic recovery plan during his fifth state of the nation address (SONA), saying those who hold such a view may be "deaf."

Some experts claimed Duterte's penultimate SONA lacked details on how the Philippines would rebound from the pandemic, which is believed to have sunk the country into a recession or two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

Critics also scored the president for supposedly using the address to air his personal gripes instead of focusing on ways to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

READ: Recovery 'roadmap' missing in Duterte's SONA

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte had discussed recovery measures in broad strokes, noting that Cabinet members have already tackled detailed programs during the pre-SONA briefings.

He said that among the recovery measures mentioned by Duterte were the tax reform bill for enterprises and the second phase of the Bayanihan Act, a law that provided the president additional powers to respond to the pandemic.  

'Maybe they are deaf'

"Siguro po bingi sila pero nakita ko po yun (Maybe they are deaf but I noticed them)," Roque said at a press briefing.

"We have a new format for the SONA. We now have pre-SONA (briefings), where secretaries of different agencies talk about details. The President just talked about direction and broad strokes and did not go into details. We did not have a litany of figures that were heard during previous SONAs," he added.

Roque said economic managers who attended the pre-SONA briefings had enumerated strategies to revive the economy including the use of public funds to spur economic activity, giving of aid to affected sectors, providing loans to businesses, using monetary policy tools to encourage investments.

He expressed hope that Congress would pass bills extending the Bayanihan Act and funding an economic stimulus package by August.

"Yesterday (July 27), the leadership of Congress promised that within the month or perhaps this August, they will approve on third and final reading the stimulus package and the extension of Bayanihan," the Palace spokesman said.

While critics are pounding on the alleged lack of substance in Duterte's address, Roque thinks the president deserves a high score for the speech.

"For me, the grade of the President is 9 out of 10," Roque said.

Asked why he did not give the President a perfect score, Roque replied: "Number One, it's long, one hour 40 (minutes). We already had pre-SONA (briefings). Second, perhaps the quotable quotes. If I were the writer, I would have placed several quotable quotes during the start and the ending of the speech. Pardon me but when I was a student, I also worked as a speech writer."

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