What to expect from Duterte's first SONA

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2016 03:16 PM

MANILA - It's shaping up to be a no-frills first State of the Nation Address (SONA) for President Rodrigo Duterte.

Award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar held an ocular inspection at the Batasang Pambansa Monday ahead of the president's big speech next Monday.

Mendoza, Andanar and their teams toured the session hall and the premises of the Batasan Pambansa where the SONA will be held on Monday.

The SONA marks the opening of the regular session of Congress on the 4th Monday of July in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

Mendoza said the SONA will be simple and have minimal fanfare as they want the president to communicate and connect with the people during his speech. He explained that his task is to make sure that the shots of the speech are well-coordinated.

PCO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III said the president's first SONA speech will be straightforward. He added there will be less drama and more policies in the speech as the president wants to recruit more ''partners for change."

Cualoping expects the speech to be shorter than previous SONAs. The event itself will also not be as stiff as in the past but they will follow the protocols and traditions set by Congress.

Asked if there are security threats, Cualoping said the threats are always there.

The speech itself is still being developed, with each Cabinet member asked to give salient points of the agenda for the next 6 years.

Mendoza, for his part, said there will be no rehearsals for the president.

Mendoza confirmed he is rendering his services for free. He said he will also help in other public campaigns of the administration, especially those in line with his personal advocacy.

This won't be the first time a professional film or broadcast director was involved in SONA preparations.

Filmmaker Lupita Aquino Kashiwahara, aunt of former President Benigno Aquino III, directed then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's SONA.

The 1987 Constitution's Article 7, Section 23 states that "The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time."

The SONA is the main policy speech of the president yearly where he is expected to report on his achievements as well as plans for the future in the hopes of securing congressional support for his legislative agenda.