The first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte which was promised to be less than 40 minutes by his communication officer actually lasted for one hour and a half last Monday. That is Rodrigo Duterte. You think you can change him by making him President? That is only half of the story. He will be Rodrigo Duterte, the President but he will also be Rodrigo Duterte, the person who is always at home with who he is with the common people.
We should now be used to him being President and being Digong that everybody in Davao knows him to be. At his SONA yesterday, President Duterte showed that he was the President the Filipinos needed to bring this country back to its senses and move forward with the rest of the league of nations. But he also showed that he was still the man on the street that every Juan and Maria can be comfortable with.
When he wanted to be President, he was full of command and authority that only the President can have. But when he wanted to let the poor and marginalized feel his care he was all oozing with it.
That was the reason why the less than 40 minutes SONA was stretched to one hour and a half because he needed to speak the language that the poor would understand and not just blabber and rattle off technical words to describe the policies that he would like to put in place and the programs he would like pursued. He needed to speak in plain language the points that he wanted carried out and supported by the people.
It was clear most of those he read on the teleprompter were prepared by technical people who did not have the command of language that the ordinary folks would understand. He had to make so many ad libs to drive the point home. And he just did that. He even joked that the teleprompter operator was asleep.
One need not listen to what he said in order to know that he was dead serious about what he was saying. One need only to look at his face, his eyes, and his lips to know that if looks and countenance can physically injure, a lot of people would have landed already at the hospital.
There was no mistake about his relentless campaign against criminality especially illegal drugs and corruption. He started his SONA with it by delving on the justice system that will be his tool to fulfil his promise of three to six months and also ended it with the same intensity about criminality.
In between were the promise of reforms in agriculture that will make the country self-sufficient in rice. He laid out the new approach to solving the Muslim problem in Mindanao by relating the historical causes that brought it about. He took pot shots at how the first world countries are putting on hold the industrialization of poorer countries by how they will address climate change.
He zeroed in on the herculean problem of traffic in Metro Manila and how to ease it by fielding faster trains and transferring general aviation to Sangley Point or Clark. But what would make the ordinary pinoy happy is his directive to stop long lines of people wanting to avail of government services and the extension of driver’s license to five years and the passport to ten years if only to do away with long queues. His directives – give people checklist or punch list of documents to submit and when they are submitted issue immediately the necessary permit, clearances or licenses.
But what should give respite to our soldiers and the police is that President Duterte declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities or ceasefire with the Communist Party-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CNN) and asked that the CNN do the same. This confidence building move of the President should augur well for the coming peace talks with the communist insurgents.
Change is definitely coming.
NOTES. Today will start the two days forum on community resiliency (CORE) here in Bohol by the Climate Change Commission headed by Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman intended to mobilize communities in addressing climate change. The Provincial Government of Bohol is orchestrating the forum to be attended by municipal mayors, planning officers and the non-government organizations and civil society.
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