Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed no surprise over former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III’s decision to skip anew his successor Mr. Duterte’s third State of Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said it is better not to show up during the joint session of Congress than be subjected to hours of rambling and incoherence.
“Duterte’s SONA record definitely does not inspire those who regard the event as a sober and solemn occasion. It is no wonder that former President Benigno S. Aquino III has opted once again not to be present in Duterte’s third SONA,” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 345.
The Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau (IPRSAB) of the House of Representatives reportedly confirmed that the former president will not once again attend Duterte’s SONA next week.
It would be the third time that Aquino would skip Duterte’s address to the nation since the latter assumed office in 2016.
De Lima said she sees no possible reason for Aquino to attend his successor’s SONA, considering how Mr. Duterte and his minions continue to attack and undermine the Aquino administration’s achievements and legacy.
The former justice secretary further explained that Duterte deliberately portrayed Aquino and his allies as “enemy” of his oft-repeated change while destroying what Aquino and his administration have built in their six years in office.
“What Duterte has done is to reverse every aspect of progress that PNoy has achieved for the country. We are now looking at the worst fiscal deficit, highest inflation rate, and lowest performance of the peso that the country has experienced in recent memory,” she said.
“There is no more bitter and excruciating experience for President Aquino than to watch the man who destroyed his country once again claim credit for fake progress. After setting the nation on the right track, PNoy saw the country throw it all away by electing a snake-oil salesman,” she added.
De Lima said she expects that Duterte will sell nothing but broken promises during what she calls as a “madman show.”
“His third sales pitch will remain as hallow and as illusory as the first two. The SONA might very well be another madman’s show,” she said.
Last year, De Lima was allowed for the first time to watch on television the proceedings of the Joint Session of Congress where Duterte delivered his second SONA at the Batasang Pambansa.
During his first SONA last year, it may be recalled that on his way to the podium, Mr. Duterte came up to Senator de Lima and shook her hand in a gesture that surprised most people inside Congress session hall.