Palace: No human props in SONA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2010 01:34 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2010 09:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will not be using any Lenny Skutniks in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

As far as Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda is concerned, the address will be about the state of the nation since his predecessor had left and the corresponding “doable” solutions.

“The inaugural was more or less political theater. The SONA will be specific, it will be an extended discussion of his ideas, his agenda…There will be no Lenny Skutnik,” he told ANC’s Strictly Politics on Tuesday night.

Lenny Skutnik is an all-American guy who was invited by former US President Ronald Reagan in his January 1982 State of the Union address.

Skutnik, heavily praised for saving an air crash victim from the Potomac River in Washington, DC, was asked to sit next to First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Since then, notable people invited to sit in the galleries of the joint meetings of Congress have been called Lenny Skutniks.

Philippine presidents had their fair share of Lenny Skutniks, sometimes drawing attention away from the real state of the nation.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presented the “Bangkang Papel” boys in 2001 to show the plight of poor Filipinos.

Like thesis defense

Lacierda said Cabinet secretaries had to appear in marathon meetings with the President in order to put meat to the speech.

“The Cabinet secretaries were made to report the lay of the land. All the figures in the speech will have basis,” he said.

The Cabinet meeting, which started on Tuesday and will continue today, was kind of like a thesis defense, he added.

After hearing the speech, people will not be left with more questions unanswered, he said.

“You won’t ask the question, ‘saan galing ang pondo nun?’ That will also be explained. Marami ideas [before], flowery pero wala namang pondo. Ngayon, klarong-klaro,” he said.

Lacierda refused to comment further on the contents of the speech, saying it is being checked and re-checked day after day.

The draft speech has not even reached discussions regarding the Truth Commission, he said.

“It will be about the true state of the nation left by Arroyo. President Aquino will lay out the problem, propose solutions, his legislative agenda…[It will be] a call to arms, a call to people to rally behind him,” he added.

Lacierda is 1 of 5 persons helping Aquino draft the speech. The others are: Manuel “Manolo” Quezon III and Ricky Carandang from Aquino’s communications group, Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad and speechwriter Mai Mislang.

The speech will be in Filipino.

“He’s particular about the tone, it’s his speech. The people will just be drafting it. At the end of the day, it’s his tone, rhythm, cadence, his own choice of words,” Lacierda said.