MANILA, Philippines—While a long list of senators, congressmen, diplomats and celebrities-turned-politicians dressed up to watch President Rodrigo Duterte deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) to the 18th Congress, the absence of several prominent individuals for different reasons became more noticeable.
Fresh from win
After his latest ring victory, boxing icon and Sen. Manny Pacquiao skipped the President’s Sona due to an eye injury he suffered in the hands of American boxer Keith Thurman.
Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, told reporters in a text message over the weekend, that the senator’s doctor had advised him to return to the Philippines on Monday yet.
“He won’t be able to attend the Sona,” said Jinkee. “His eye hurts and the doctor won’t let him,” she said.
READ: Pacquiao to skip Sona after win vs Keith Thurman
Pacquiao handed Thurman his first boxing career defeat at a match in Las Vegas, winning the bout by a split decision.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio was also not in attendance at perhaps one of the most important occasions in her father’s presidency.
The younger Duterte earlier told INQUIRER.net that she would not be able to attend the President’s Sona as she is currently on “special medical leave for 60 days.”
“It’s a gyne (gynecological) condition,” Duterte-Carpio said.
READ: Sara Duterte to skip father’s fourth SONA
This was the first time the Davao mayor skipped her father’s Sona
Duterte would have delivered his speech before four former presidents, but one was missing—Duterte’s direct predecessor Benigno Aquino III.
Inviting former Presidents and national officials during an incumbent President’s national address has been tradition that started during the term of former President Fidel Ramos. The House’s Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau had said Aquino turned down the invitation to be present at Duterte’s fourth Sona.
READ: Aquino to skip Duterte’s SONA again
Aquino had been the standard bearer of Liberal Party (LP) in the 2010 presidential elections. Today, LP is all but decimated by defections of party members who lost no time jumping ship after Duterte became President in 2016. Its remaining members are even divided in the House with one group wanting to join the supermajority coalition supporting Duterte.
The current LP chair is Vice President Leni Robredo, who was greeted by Duterte at the start of his Sona. She sat alongside Ramos and former Presidents Joseph Estrada, who has been convicted of plunder and pardoned by his successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who sat beside him during the Sona./TSB
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