MANILA – Malacañang on Saturday said President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver an inspiring State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. Speaking to ANC, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President continues to make revisions to his speech before rehearsing it with Andanar and his legal team. Andanar said the speech is expected to tackle the President’s legislative agenda for the next six years based on inputs from the different agencies as well as his policies for peace and order, illegal drugs, with a substantial section on suggested reforms to address the country’s transportation problems. He added Duterte will also call on Filipinos to rally behind his new administration. “It’s extremely optimistic but it’s very poignant that when I read it, it made me cry,” said Andanar. “A call to unity, a call to rise to the occasion, and a call to be more positive about the country and make this nation great once more. Once you listen to the speech, it will awaken the patriotic spirit of every Filipino.” Andanar noted former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have confirmed their attendance. He expressed hope former President Benigno Aquino III will also grace the occasion. Political observers, meanwhile, expect Duterte to lay down details of government’s 10-point economic agenda as well as bold reforms he hopes to do including his anti-drug and anti crime campaign and push for federalism and the death penalty. Assistant Professor Jean Encinas-Franco from the University of the Philippines (UP) Political Science Department said members of the diplomatic community would also look forward to hearing the President’s response to the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on the West Philippine Sea issue. But she noted the President may have to justify the need for his hard-line policies. Professor Edmund Tayao from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Political Science Department is also hopeful of a more meaty speech and one devoid of the finger-pointing that defined first SONAs of the previous administrations. “We’d like to have a president who is not necessarily weak but diplomatic and straightforward and forthcoming,” Tayao said.
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