Duterte at SONA 2016: Off-script, yet on point

MANILA, Philippines – What happened at President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address? Camille Elemia reports on the highlights.

CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: Change has come to the State of the Nation Address in more ways than one. Simple clothes. Informal language. No special protocols and a change in focus.

President Rodrigo Duterte rocks tradition as he delivers his first SONA as 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

It's a SONA unlike any other. Expect the unexpected, and that's how it played out. Once a fashion show for politicians and their wives, now guests walk the red carpet wearing business attire. The president did have a teleprompter and a prepared copy – but old habits die hard.

True to form, Duterte veers away several times from his prepared speech.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: If that is the only worry that you have and I can understand your misgiving. Wala na ito sa – ang haba. Wala na ito sa script. You know, ako maka-garantiya, 101 percent it will be clean. The problem is I can only act through agencies and departments. That’s why I urge you na maski konting mali lang,  wala akong ano sa inyo, wala na akong politika, wala na. I’m through after this.

(If that is the only worry that you have and I can understand your misgiving. I assure you this isn't in the script. I assure you this will be a clean government. If that is the only worry that you have, and I can understand your misgivings, this isn't part of – it's long. This isn't part of the script. I can guarantee this: 101% it will be clean. The problem is I can only act through agencies and departments. That's why I urge you to report, even if it's just a small mistake. I will be done with politics after this.)

CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: If past SONAs focused on social services and anti-corruption, Duterte’s speech highlighted his trademark campaign against drugs and crime.

Many times he would talk about other issues, only to bring the spotlight back to criminality.

Some of his statements, as expected, are controversial, especially on human rights.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Kayo namang hindi pa bungog diyan, hindi pa pumasok yang mga droga, eh kung ayaw ninyong mamatay, ayaw ninyong masaktan, huwag kayong umasa diyan sa mga pari pati Human Rights, hindi nakakapigil yan ng kamatayan. So huwag ninyong gawin. Eh tapos nandiyan ka nakabulagta and you are portrayed in a broadsheet na parang Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ.  Eh yan yang mga yan magda-dramahan tayo dito. [Dito ako nakatingin kasi nandito ang public eh]. Alam mo, ilang beses ko na sinasabi, sa Davao, ‘Huwag mong gawin kasi magkaka-problema tayo.' He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of them all. Ikaw yung nag umpisa, you swallow ---

(Let us be clear with each other. I am for the comfort and the welfare of the Filipino. For those who are not yet crazy, for those whose brains aren't yet addled by drugs, if you don't want to die, if you don't want to get hurt, do not pin your hopes on priests and on human rights. They don't stop death. So don't do drugs. There you are lying on the ground and you are portrayed in the broadsheet like Mother Mary cradling the cadaver of Jesus Christ. There are those who want drama. I'm looking in this direction, because this is where the public is. You know, I've been saying this so many times. In Davao City, do not do drugs because we will have problems. He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of them all. You started it, you swallow the consequences.)

CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: Duterte also simplifies some protocols. A smaller welcoming committee welcomes him at the House of Representaties. After he left the Session Hall, Duterte granted requests for selfies, hugs, and kisses. The Presidential Security Group could only stand by and watch.

President Duterte mostly departs from tradition, but some things remain the same. Duterte vows to continue and improve several policies of his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III. In his words, he “hopes and prays” he will hand over a much stronger economy – one that is free corruption.

Camille Elemia, Rappler, Quezon City. – Rappler.com