Interview with Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar
Dateline Philippines — ANC
23 July 2016
ALVIN ELCHICO: Before and after the speech, what else do the public, with the Filipino people, need to know with regards to the President’s SONA on Monday?

SEC. ANDANAR: The speech of the President this comingv Monday, as I reviewed it, is utterly poignant yet audacious and extremely positive, or extremely optimistic. The President will be talking about…will be addressing the nation, and will be explaining his legislative agenda for the next six years. The President will be zeroing the problems of the country like the transport problems, the peace problems. There is also the problems that we are facing with the drug addiction of millions of Filipinos. So, if you would listen, if you have—I surmise that the speech would last for 45 to 50 minutes without the applause.

ALVIN ELCHICO: Okay, so just less than an hour without the applause. Has the President already practiced his speech, or there’s no time for that?

SEC. ANDANAR: I’m in Davao now, Alvin, and I haven’t (unclear) the speech which has been… which up to this day, is continually being revised by the President himself. And by five p.m. this afternoon, we should be rehearsing, we should be going through the motions of rewiring the speech and reading through it with the President.

ALVIN ELCHICO: Who wrote the speech? Did the President have an input, or he’s into probably adlib in certain parts of the speech?

SEC. ANDANAR: Yeah. The President mainly wrote the speech with the support of his legal team and being co-read(?) at the PCO, but with the inputs of the different agencies or departments. We have asked for the assistance of the other secretaries. 
ALVIN ELCHICO: So, the confirmed topics, we can already divulge that the speech will include programs on federalism, perhaps? Is that the confirmed topic in the President’s SONA speech?



SEC. ANDANAR: Tranport problem.

ALVIN ELCHICO: Transport, okay.

SEC. ANDANAR: We also have the issues at the DPWH.

What else do we have here? Health. Practically all of the departments, they have their own policies that they have submitted in their legislative agenda for the next six years. And therefore when I say that it’s extremely optimistic, but it’s very poignant that when I read it, it made me cry.

ALVIN ELCHICO: Oh really? Will he be personally asking Congress for the emergency powers?

SEC. ANDANAR: We will see. It’s…all of the suggestions, all of the recommendations of Secretary Art Tugade are there. In fact, if you compare all of the inputs of the different departments, most likely the Department of Transportation has the most inputs, or had the most space in that 45-minute speech.


HOWARD: So, Secretary, Caroline Howard here. So, this would still be open to some final revisions then, before Monday?

SEC. ANDANAR: Yes, we are revising it by the hour. And as you see, it’s being revised as well, and later on we will have a formal meeting with the President, and he will revise it, He revised it five times already, though

HOWARD: It will be interesting what kind of attendance would be there, especially among our previous chief executives, Sir. Would this speech also include, again, a call to unity?

SEC. ANDANAR: Definitely. A call to unity; a call to rise… rise to the occasion; and a call to be more positive about the country; and a call to make this nation great once more. In fact, once you listen to the speech, it will awaken the patriotic spirit of every Filipino.

CAROLINE HOWARD: Well, we’ve heard that much also in previous speeches by the presidents. At this point—

SEC. ANDANAR: Oh, not, not; not, not—

HOWARD: Not in this form?

SEC. ANDANAR: Not in this one, this is different.

CAROLINE HOWARD: Okay. Well then, therefore, that could definitely be something to look forward to. Any final instructions though leading up to Monday? And as much as everything has practically, we assume, been ironed out.

SEC. ANDANAR: Well, it’s been ironed out. It’s just to make sure that everything is as simple as possible (unclear) throughout. And for all of the guests to look as simple as possible, and to give respect and honor and dignity to the State of the Nation Address. I belive that the House, the Speaker, the Incoming Speaker has asked for sobriety and for calmness inside the House of the Representatives when the President gives his speech. I’m not sure if clapping or applause will be probihited.

CAROLINE HOWARD: Well, we’ll have to see that. Nonetheless any final marching orders leading up to Monday, whether…even beyond the speech, Secretary. On=== the interary of the President come Monday, any final instructions for Monday’s agenda or the President?

SEC. ANDANAR: Well, it’s really not. It’s just to prepare, prepare, and prepare; and for the Filipino people, for our countrymen to look forward to this rousing anspiring speech.

ELCHICO: Aeshtetic naman, Sec. Martin. The President will be wearing a barong? Confirmed na iyon, magba-barong siya?

SEC. ANDANAR: Barong, yes. Barong, Filipiniana, black pants or khaki depending on the mood of the President that day.

ELCHICO: Okay. And he will be there early. May babaguhin ba sa schedule? Kasi usually the speech starts around what? Four, and it lasts until what? Five thirty, an hour and a half. Sabi mo less than an hour. Ang latest, the practice, in less than an hour.

SEC. ANDANAR: Yes. Well, Wwithout clapping, definitely it’s going to last less than an hour. Now, with regard to the schedule, I cannot really say because the Presidential Security Group, they change the time and the schedule of the President’s arrival now and then for security purposes.

ELCHICO: And there will be cocktails—is it before or after? Also after the speech?

SEC. ANDANAR: Well…yeah, there will be cocktails. There are some snacks after the address of the President. And, I believe that beforehand, well, by tradition, the House of Representatives, they may also have their own activity before that.

HOWARD: Secretary, final two questions. Who will be escorting the President into the main hall tomorrow… on Monday, rather?

SEC. ANDANAR: It’s going to be the majority floor leader of the House and the majority floor leader of the Senate.

HOWARD: And who among the previous presidents have confirmed their attendance, if we may hear it from you?

SEC. ANDANAR: I believe it’s the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

SEC. ANDANAR: There’s also former President Fidel V. Ramos and former President Joseph Estrada.

ELCHICO: So former President Aquino is not… definitely coming?

SEC. ANDANAR: We’re hoping that he arrives, and that he comes and honors the SONA of President Rody Duterte.


HOWARD: Well, we look forward to that opportunity. Thank you, Sec. Martin Andanar for taking our questions, Sir.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you, Caroline. Thank you, Alvin.

SOURCE: NIB (News and Information Bureau)