THE THIRD State of the Nation Address (SONA) almost didn’t happen after President Rodrigo R. Duterte threatened to walk out of the Batasang Pambansa due to the unexpected change in leadership at the House of Representatives last Monday, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Tuesday.
Mr. Sotto, who was with Mr. Duterte before he delivered his SONA, said he sensed “displeasure” from the President with what was happening.
“’Wo-walk out na lang ako kapag hindi nila inayos ‘yan (I will just walk out if they don’t settle this matter). ‘Something to that effect,” Mr. Sotto said of Mr. Duterte’s response to the power play at the House between Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the 2nd District of Pampanga and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, who would thereafter be ousted in an election following Mr. Duterte’s report to the nation.
Asked if Mr. Duterte would have walked out of his own SONA, Mr. Sotto told reporters, “Yes, he gave a threat to that effect.”
House Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas then reminded Mr. Duterte of his constitutional mandate to deliver his SONA under Article VII, Section 23, of the 1987 Constitution, which states, “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.”
The Senate has yet to receive a transmission from the House of any changes of leadership, Mr. Sotto said, adding that the Senate will have a “wait-and-see” attitude toward the new House leadership.
Also asked about Monday’s standoff at the House, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in his press briefing Tuesday, “Unfortunately,…pinabalik na ako sa upuan ko ni ES. (I was asked by the Executive Secretary to return to my seat.) So I wouldn’t know.”
”ES…,will be in a better position because ES was right there mediating,” Mr. Roque also said.
Asked about the atmosphere at the House, he said: “Oh my goodness, you better believe it. Tempers were really flaring all over the place. But—they all have to behave, because the President was around, of course.” — Camille A. Aguinaldo and Arjay L. Balinbin