MANILA – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) assured on Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City would be “smooth and safe”.
“This will be the last SONA of the President, so we will ensure and assure the Filipino people that it will go smoothly and safely as with the past state of the nation addresses of the President,” PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III said in an interview with state-run PTV-4.
Durante stated that the PSG is now in the “second” phase of security planning for Duterte’s final SONA.
He noted that ocular and site inspections have already been done within the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
He also stated that a simulation drill will be conducted to assure Duterte’s safety.
“But of course, with all of these, the PSG emphasized the strict implementation of health and safety protocols in all of the activities,” he said.
Minimal number of participants
Durante also stated that there will be a limited number of visitors in Batasan due of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
However, he did not disclose the number of attendees.
The presidential family, members of Congress and their spouses, former presidents, foreign diplomats, government officials, and other dignitaries are typically invited to the annual SONA.
Those who will not be invited can still watch Duterte’s last SONA via video conference, according to Durante.
“Until now, we are still in the state of pandemic. So, we implemented some measures. Hindi lahat makakadalo (Not everyone will be invited). Some will attend through , and there will be a minimal number of attendees doon po sa (at the) plenary,” Durante said.
Durante stated that SONA guests will be subjected to strict health and safety regulations.
Attendees to Duterte’s SONA last year were compelled to undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) a day before the annual event to ensure they are free of Covid-19 before being allowed entry to the Batasang Pambansa Complex.
Every year, the Philippine President delivers the SONA to report on the state of the country, present the government’s strategy for the following year, and seizes the occasion to encourage Congress to enact priority legislation.
The President is mandated by Article 7, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution to “address the Congress at the opening of its regular session”.