SONA 2019: What to expect

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22, Monday.

Duterte, who remains the most trusted among top government officials in a recent survey, will give a report on his administration's achievements in the past year and the legislative track he will take.

The President is expected to disembark from his chopper at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City shortly before 4 p.m. As per tradition and protocol, he will receive arrival honors to be led by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal. He will also be welcomed by the Sergeants of Arms of Senate and House.

He will also be met by the newly-elected Senate President and House Speaker, who will be handpicked by their respective peers during the opening session of the 18th Congress on Monday morning.

Duterte will then be ushered into the Legislator's Executive Lounge, where he will have a chat with the Congressional leaders, then head to the plenary hall for his speech at 4 p.m.

This year, the event directed by movie director Joyce Bernal, will have a unique element. For the first time in history, a live orchestra — composed of 65 Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra musicians — is set to perform for the high-profile guests. They will also sing the national anthem.

After the ecumenical prayer, President Duterte will be introduced, then he will address the nation.


The President is expected to talk about his legacy in his first three years in office.

"It's all about the Duterte legacy. Ito 'yung aabangan ng mga kababayan natin, ano ang gagawin for the next three years," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: It's all about the Duterte legacy. It's what our fellow countrymen will do, what we will do for the next three years."]

He said Duterte is expected to tackle his plans to alleviate poverty and the continued implementation of his big-ticket infrastructure projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.

"Bringing down the poverty rate from 21 to 14 percent at iaangat ang ating ekonomiya [and raise our economy] to an upper middle class economy. Pangalawa, mga infrastucture projects dahil alam natin sa isang Presidente dapat merong hard legacy na nakikita ang ating mga kababayan," the Secretary said.

[Translation: Secondly, infrastucture projects, because we know a President should have a hard legacy that our people will see.]

Duterte is also set to talk about the the state of the country's peace and order, focusing on the national task force created to end local communist armed conflict.

The President's controversial policy that allows Chinese fishing in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) might also be talked at length during the SONA. Duterte is expected to "educate people who think that what he did was unconstitutional," his spokesperson said.

READ: Duterte's 4th SONA seen as 'lecture' on constitutionality of Chinese fishing in EEZ

Duterte has been criticized for recently divulging his 2016 agreement with Xi, that Beijing would no longer block Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal, if Manila would allow Chinese fishermen to fish in Recto Bank, also known as Reed Bank, which is within the Philippines' EEZ. Both areas are being claimed by Manila and Beijing.

In the recent Pulse Asia survey, the respondents said they want Duterte to discuss an increase in workers' salaries, lowering of prices of goods, and creating more job opportunities. Over 9 percent of those surveyed said Duterte should tackle the issues surrounding the Philippines and China, with 6.1 percent saying Duterte should assert the country's sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

Andanar said that the speech is expected to last from 45 to 80 minutes, depending on how long it would take Duterte to read his prepared speech. But the President is known to go off tangent, speaking on topics unrelated to the event he is attending. In 2018, he gave his shortest SONA speech, that lasted for 48 minutes.


At least 35,000 people are expected to join a protest against the Duterte administration to be held in the vicinity of Batasang Pambasa. Halfway through his term, progressive groups said Duterte hasn't done much to improve the lives of the Filipinos. To express their displeasure, they are creating an effigy of Duterte as a sea monster, to represent the administration's shortcomings.

Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will also join a gathering of progressive groups along Commonwealth Avenue for the United People's SONA on Monday afternoon. They will bring up Duterte's "failure" to defend the country's sovereign rights.

Several protests are also expected to be staged across the region.

Malacañang has also warned foreigners from joining protest gatherings.

Security, traffic

More than 14,000 police personnel will be on duty in Metro Manila for the upcoming SONA to be held in Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, with 9,000 to be deployed in the city alone. They will be on full alert starting Saturday. PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde said they will be strict with the security measures that will be in effect during the SONA day to prevent any untoward incident from happening.

READ: At least 35,000 protesters to flock streets during Duterte's SONA

Temporary traffic rerouting schemes will be in place in Quezon City as early as 12 a.m. Monday as heavy traffic is expected on roads leading to and from the complex. The city police have listed down road closures and alternate routes for July 22.

With the expected traffic and protests, classes in all levels in Quezon City have been suspended for the day.