President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) is expected to last for 80 minutes sans adlibs, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Monday.
“I think it will not go beyond an hour and 20 [minutes]. But, again, it’s the President’s prerogative to do adlibs in between,” Andanar said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.
Duterte’s first SONA lasted for 90 minutes while his second SONA lasted for 120 minutes. His third SONA lasted only for 48 minutes, while his fourth lasted for 93 minutes.
During his third SONA, Duterte kept his promise to keep his speech shorter than usual by mostly reading the 16-page prepared speech.
Andanar said it remains to be seen whether the President will stay on-script or make adlibs during the address.
“It will still begin at 4 p.m. – the usual tradition of having the Speaker of House and the Senate President opening the floor for everybody. And there will also be the flag ceremony and the usual prayer, and then the President will just breeze through his speech,” Andanar said.
Television and film director Joyce Bernal, who will be in charge of directing the President’s SONA, will also insert some video presentations, he added.
He said that after the SONA, the President will return to Malacañang Palace in Manila without taking any interviews.
“Afterwards, the President goes back to Malacañang; there will be no more interviews as far as I’m concerned or as far as we know because, again, media is not allowed inside the halls and this is to follow the strict protocols of the Department of Health,” he said.
Duterte is scheduled to deliver his fifth SONA at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
However, in case one of those invited to attend the annual event tests positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), he said Duterte might deliver his SONA at Malacañang Palace instead.
Currently, a total of 50 seats are reserved for Cabinet members and lawmakers if Duterte delivers his SONA at the Batasang Pambansa.
Covid-19 takes the center stage
Although he hasn’t read the speech himself, Andanar said the President’s fifth SONA will be “full of optimism and hope” where he will discuss the administration’s achievements until the emergence of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Andanar said Duterte will also tackle the effects of the pandemic on the economy and may give a “special mention” to all front liners leading the fight against the health crisis.
He said the President may likely discuss resolutions and bills pushed by the administration, such as the Malasakit Act and the Salary Standardization.
The President will also bring up the government’s various subsidy programs and the enactment of the Bayanihan Law, he said.
He said the President is also expected to talk about the government’s fiscal management and plans to stir the economy towards socio-economic recovery.
Moreover, he said the President will discuss his legislative agenda during the SONA.
“I believe that the President will continue to pursue proposed measures to strengthen our healthcare system and to improve the delivery of the government’s assistance to the vulnerable sectors,” he said.
Meanwhile, he expressed doubt that the President will mention constitutional reforms during his SONA since it is “not a priority” at the moment.
“I believe that charter change is not a priority of this administration and this administration is focused on all its effort to fight Covid-19 and how to support the economy and help the economy and all the businessmen and all the industries get back on its feet,” he said.
Earlier, the 1,488-strong League of Municipalities of the Philippines expressed support for the President’s call for constitutional reforms.
The President has never mentioned constitutional reforms in any of his talks to the nation since the start of the pandemic. (PNA)