Former president Benigno Aquino III will be a no-show during President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Aquino volunteered this in an interview with Maria Ressa on Rappler Talk on Tuesday, July 18, while discussing Palace invitations that he had to decline.
"The SONA, I prefer to watch it on TV so I can concentrate on what is being said rather than on the comments of the people I would be seated with," the former president said.
He gave the same reason last year for declining the invitation.
Edith Cardenas, head of the invitations committee of Task Force SONA, confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday that Aquino had sent word that he would not attend the event.
"Regrets po si President Noynoy Aquino (President Noynoy Aquino sent his regrets). Others are attending," said Cardenas when asked if all living former presidents have confirmed their attendance to Duterte's SONA to be held after the joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday, July 24.
Following tradition and protocol, former presidents Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were all invited to hear Duterte deliver his second SONA.
Aquino has been in the headlines again the past few days after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of graft charges against him over the botched Mamasapano operation in January 2015.
Duterte, however, described the charges against his predecessor as "silly" – a move that surprised Aquino.
Aside from past presidents and incumbent lawmakers, others invited to Duterte's second SONA include Vice President Leni Robredo, lawmakers' spouses, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, members of the diplomatic corps, and other special guests.
Most guests are required to come in business attire in an attempt to tone down the red carpet fanfare, following the Duterte administration's inclination to keep formal events simple.
Legislators, however, are mandated to come in Filipiniana attire.