Fury, facepalms, Jesus? Pinoys ride rollercoaster of emotions in Duterte’s SONA 2020

From left: Spokesman Harry Roque getting some shuteye, PRRD threatening lawbreakers (again), Education Secretary Leonor Briones grinning after Duterte takes back approval of face-to-face classes. <i data-lazy-src=

Throughout an hour and 41 minutes on the dot of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2020 State of the Nation diatribe—er, Address (SONA), Filipinos rode a rollercoaster of turbulent emotions including anger, laughter, maybe some slight disbelief, and a dash of heavy-handed facepalms throughout the course of this year’s address.

Was it because Duterte, who was supposed to talk about the COVID-19 health crisis, decided to start and book-end his speech with a jab on one of his fierce critics, Senator Franklin Drilon, whom he accused of attacking his family, and being a hypocrite, for calling out the oligarchy?

No? Maybe it was when he promised that Filipinos’ life will come first, then in the same breath, talked about killing (yes, again) miscreants who break the law, and bringing back the death penalty. Or was it when he decided to take back approval of face-to-face classes much to the apparent surprise of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, who could only muster a smile when the camera panned to her.

Still not that? Maybe it was when he thanked the police and quarantine enforcers instead of medical frontliners, or asked telco providers to fix the country’s internet by December because he wanted to make a Zoom call with  Jesus Christ himself in Bethlehem.

Oh, PRRD. How could the very boring but important, actual details of the government’s COVID-19 response stack up with the scintillating topics you instead chose to go with?

Users like @Sentastic polled, “On a scale of 1 to aneurysm, how much of a headache is watching the #SONA2020 right now[?]”

Duterte’s SONA may have set Philippine Twitter on fire, but over at the Batasang Pambansa, it looks as if it wasn’t enough to keep even his Spokesman Harry Roque awake.

Eagle-eyed Filipinos like @GerryMoralesJr pointed out that this appears to be “Harry Roque dreaming about dolphins,” a jab to when the spokesman controversially decided to swim with Subic Bay’s captive sea mammals.

Read: Someone’s Having Fun: Spokesman Roque swims with Subic dolphins despite quarantine

Many caught the rambling chief executive go from championing human rights to an pointed desire to snuff out the country’s law-breaking citizens.

“Du29+1: Lives first. Also him: bringing back death penalty. Mood swing at its peak,” tweeted @frncsjhnxn.


@kratchdave echoed Duterte’s contradicting statement, writing, “Du5x5+5 be like: ‘SHOOT THEM DEAD!’ Also him: ‘Life before everything else.”


Then after the not-so-well-received statement drew crickets, Duterte asked Congress to clap for it. One @gelmorerase stressed in disbelief, “He really asked Congress to clap for his plans to bring back Death Penalty.”

Read: Bad connectivity thwarts telco commission from joining PH Senate virtual hearing

Then on his ultimatum on telco companies to fix the country’s sluggish internet connection by December, because he planned on calling Jesus Christ in Bethlehem on his computer, @ralfmyk wrote, “Jesus Christ coming to fix the PH internet connectivity.”


Duterte also appeared to have backtracked from his initial go-to signal of allowing the Education Department to resume face-to-face classes in low-risk areas, suddenly announcing on his SONA that physical classes will again be suspended until a vaccine is available.

“PDU30: ‘I cannot and will not put to rest the health and lives of the students and teachers’,” @r3iiine quoted Duterte saying. He then posted a photo catching an approximation of Education Secretary Briones’ reaction after she was caught unaware but ended up smiling when the camera panned on her.


Of the many rambling topics that Filipinos expected Duterte to talk about except for COVID-19, @kmthyngluvv had this visual guideline only a half-hour into the speech.

He then wrote, “As of 4:20pm, [We’ve hit] [b]ingo!”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Duterte speech if it wasn’t littered with expletives. User @dioquinodelfin said, “Speechwriter: Please do not say it. Please do not say it. Duterte: B*tch.”


@jm_mayhem tweeted that the government at least managed to say that a vaccine is coming, but after that brief mention focused on a slew of unrelated topics that the president put a premium on including, “ABS-CBN, Drilon. Oligarchs, Shabu.”

After mentioning that he was helpless (inutil) in laying claim to the West Philippine Sea because China has more weapons and that he cannot afford to go to war, @mikeljosep wondered, “How will @attyharrroque spoin-off Duterte’s statement when he said ‘I am helpless about that,’ concerning doing outright claims against China with regards to the West Philippine Seas territory? I am waiting.”


Meanwhile, @manoelster wrote in earnest, “This is what I wanted to hear at #SONA2020: Plans to control the spread of the virus. Vaccine leads for our countrymen, plans to increase healthcare facilities and frontline workers, supply medicine, vitamins, food, and social services, increase the salary of healthcare workers.”

Tough luck, none of those appeared to have been stressed in Duterte’s talking points.


Do you agree or disagree with the above reactions? How did you feel watching SONA 2020? Leave us a comment below or tweet this story and tag us @CoconutsManila.

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