Duterte to be ''physically present'' at Batasan to deliver SONA amid pandemic - Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to be ''physically present'' at the House of Representatives in Quezon City to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 27, Malacañang said on Monday.
In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte is likely to focus on the new coronavirus and how his administration is trying to address the problem brought by the pandemic during his upcoming SONA.
"I can confirm for the first time that the President will be physically present in Batasan during the SONA on the 27th of this month," he said.
"He has confirmed that he will attend unless there are supervening events," he added.
Roque said preparation for the SONA has been ongoing and the President will have a rehearsal prior to July 27.
Initially, Roque said the Palace was preparing for the SONA to be delivered by Duterte either by being physically present in the House or via a video conference from Malacañang.
It was not yet sure how many lawmakers would be allowed to be physically present at the Plenary Hall of the Lower House during the event. The SONA is always being held during the joint session of Congress where members of the House and the Senate are present.
Asked of the theme of the President's SONA, he said, "I think it will be obvious that he will be talking COVID-19, impact on the country and steps taken to deal with COVID-19 and how we will recover from the aberration and the problem that have arisen because of COVID."
Meanwhile, Roque disuaded protesters to hold physical rally in Quezon City as what some groups had taken in the previous SONAs to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"I'm just repeating what is in the ordinance of Quezon City and the guidelines issued by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases)," he said.
He noted that under the IATF guidelines, in areas under general community quarantine like Metro Manila, mass gathering is allowed up to 10 persons only.
"This is for the heath of all, health of those who want to hold a rally, health of their neighbor, health of their relatives. So we're reminding that there is an ordinance and the policemen have the duty to enforce this ordinance," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS