Minutes after he finished delivering his fourth State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte sang two songs: George Canseco’s “Ikaw” and Andy Williams’ “Moon River” with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra accompanying him.
Duterte, who arrived at the Batasang Pambansa almost an hour late for his speech, appeared to be in high spirits”•even as he challenged his critics to keep on trying to oust him and grab power.
“If you think you can run the country better than the duly-elected one, go ahead. That’s the problem of the Filipino people. Kapag abutan ako ng topak, bahala na kayo diyan. I’m going home,” the President said in his SONA that lasted for one hour and 33 minutes.
Duterte began his speech with a fearless forecast, saying “Believe me, I will end my term fighting,” and ended with a promise to all Filipinos that he “will not stop until I reach the finish line.”
Outside the Batasang Pambansa, Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde likewise broke into a song in a bid to cheer his policemen maintaining security for the SONA.
“Let’s sing first before we go to rally,” he said as he belted out Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”
In other developments:
• More than 1,000 supporters on Monday flocked to IBP Road, Batasan Hills in Quezon City near the House of Representatives ahead of Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address as early as 9 a.m.
But some 5,000 anti-Duterte protesters gathered in front of St. Peter Parish Church and the Commission on Human Rights along Commonwealth Avenue and slammed the government for its war on drugs and its silence on the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
• Various labor groups on Monday said the government must attend to the problem of hunger and poverty instead of term extension and foreign ownership.
The Philippine National Police said Monday it will deploy 117 human rights officers to ensure that police officers will observe protocols during the Duterte’s SONA when handling militant groups.
The PNP said the deployment of non-uniformed intelligence monitoring teams in rally sites for the SONA was not aimed at conducting surveillance among protesters. With PNA