President Duterte’s 2021 SONA: not a “long goodbye” but more of a “to be continued”

Substance abuse. A columnist whose piece doesn’t have any, is guilty of abusing the reading public. Isn’t it naiveté to use Rappler‘s viewers as bases for assertions about the “declining” popularity of the President. Most pundits have come out with their post-SONA review. Opinions are divided along partisan lines of course. Inevitably the Opposition, like Inquirer columnist Manuel L. Quezon III (MLQ3) fall into the trap of trivializing the outsider President. Following his predictably less-than-glowing “commentary” on this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Rordrigo Duterte to Congress Monday which he described as “The long goodbye”, MLQ3 writes in conclusion…

Luckily for the President, plunging attention (2016 views on Rappler: 2.4 million; in 2021: 484, 426 as of Tuesday afternoon) and the historic win of Hidilyn Diaz overshadowed the President’s final report. In politics, luck is as important as any act of commission or omission. Mr. Duterte got a free pass from an athlete whose reward for expressing joy over meeting the President was to be included in an anti-administration matrix by his chief presidential legal counsel.

Since the death of former President Noynoy “PNoy” Aquino III, the arguments have been childish. It’s about who initiated what project. If you think about it, Duterte made no accusations against the previous administration about corruption. All the awarded projects were continued. For Duterte, there was no looking back at the past. He was looking only at the present. If I were in MLQ3’s shoes, my time would be better spent analyzing the inanities of opposition leaders. Why does Vice President Leni Robredo have to come up with her counter-SONA when it isn’t traditional to begin with? Politicizing the first Olympic gold medal also doesn’t do much for their cause. If Sartorial Sal was stupid to include Gretchen Fullido Ho and Hidilyn Diaz in a destabilization matrix at that time, he’s no different from the sycophantic blunders of close aides of past administrations.

The basic difference between the Yellows and Duterte is that the latter does not claim the projects as his because he knows well these are financed by public funds. It’s the people’s monies. The administration claims it as a whole in terms of performance achievements but it’s so unlike before when you had Daang Matuwid plastered on every Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) billboard describing a particular project. For all the flood control projects then Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson undertook as DPWH Secretary, it surely failed again last Friday when most of the Metro was flooded due to the southwest monsoon.

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Reading the biased news of today makes you wonder if you are in the same country as the Opposition. If you tuned in to Rappler‘s SONA coverage, there was no attempt at objectivity. It was more biased than any Ronnie Nathanielsz/Rita Gaddi Baltazar coverage on the state-owned network during the National Media Production Center (NMPC) days of Greg Cendaña and Ed Finlan. The Yellowidiots fail to realize that they are becoming more Marcosian as they sink into the abyss they have made for themselves. It only serves to dampen their credibility and puts to shame the Marcos Loyalists of past years at their peak.

The last SONA of Duterte should’ve been indicative of his mindset as his term ends. Normally, a President waxes emotional about his achievements. It’s his political swansong after all. The Opposition must’ve been perturbed over the fact that this wasn’t the tone of the Presidential address. In effect, Duterte didn’t put a period at the end of his speech. It was more like “to be continued.” There was a man I knew before who wasn’t well-educated formally but loved to read. He kept on repeating the adage “treat your enemies well and send them home defeated.” In hindsight, Duterte has done exactly this. His exercise of Presidential power was carefully measured. He constantly plays the long game which is why the Opposition has been in a state of befuddlement. What is noticeable is the fact that the opposition is shifting blame to Duterte for acts they are guilty of. Gaslighting is at the top of that list. Refusal to accept the consequences of actions is another. Duterte is allegedly narcissistic. I tend to think it’s actually the opposition who are. They continue to exist in their own ecosystem where they are insulated from the realities of the outside world. The real world.

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