The Many Triumphs of Pres Duterte's First Sona

The first SONA of President Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, broke a lot of records, protocols, and milestones.

For the first time in the history of the SONA, militant groups were allowed to stage their rally near the Bataan Complex, lining up the streets sans barbed wires along IBP Road up to Quezon City PUP, where a stage had been set up for their activities. Only the center aisle separated the police forces and the left-wing demonstrators, who happened to be on the side of the government this time, another first because they called their mass action “kilos-suporta” rather than “kilos-protesta”

In terms of protocol, business attire instead of the traditional long gowns and elegant Barong Tagalog were the fashion of the day. All guests and attendees, VIPs or not, were required to pass through security check.

Moreover, the elections of Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as Senate President and Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez as Speaker of the House has brought about a formidable all-Mindanaoan triumvirate in the country’s leadership.

President Duterte who is from Davao City, Senate President Pimentel from Cagayan de Oro City, and House Speaker Alvarez from Davao del Norte are holding three of the four highest positions in the land today based on succession.

In addition, it’s the first time that a child of a former Senate President has become Senate President as well. Sen. Koko Pimentel’s father, former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., served as Senate President in 2000-2001.

All living former Philippine Presidents, except Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, were present, namely: Fidel V. Ramos, special Philippine envoy to China; Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada; and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Duterte must have been fortunate to have the most number of former Presidents to grace his first SONA.

Internationally-acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza directed the momentous event. Mindanao-based folk singer Bayang Barrios sang the National Anthem.

The powerful SONA, which was estimated to last for 38 minutes, went over an hour overtime as a number of important national issues and legislative proposals were tackled by the President.

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