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Sona at Batasan, speech from Palace?

It’s confirmed: President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa on July 27.

But “it’s not yet 100 percent sure if the President will physically [deliver it], or if it would be broadcasted from the Malago (clubhouse in the Palace complex) to Congress,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.

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“The issue is if the President will personally attend, how many will attend, or if the President will just deliver it via video-telecast,” Roque said.

Should he show up at the Batasan’s plenary hall, Mr. Duterte would be delivering his fifth Sona to an almost empty gallery.

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Based on Malacañang’s latest plans, only a maximum of 50 people will be allowed to listen to the President’s speech in the 1,500-capacity session hall.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said only 25 people from the executive branch and 25 people from the legislature, including staff, will be allowed to be physically present during the July 27 event.

‘Swashbuckling’

“If I may venture a guess, first of all the President, if I will describe him in one word, is swashbuckling. Maybe he did not want it said that the government was cowered by the pandemic,” he told reporters on why the President decided to deliver his speech at the Batasan.

There are health protocols anyway that require everybody attending the Sona to undergo a rapid test, to have their temperature taken, and to wear masks, he noted.

The Presidential Security Group has imposed strict protocols on Mr. Duterte’s activities amid the new coronavirus pandemic because at 75, the President belongs to one of the sectors most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Sotto said eight senators and nine House members would attend the Sona.

Aside from him, those expected to be present are Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Francis Tolentino, Christopher “Bong” Go, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Pia Cayetano.

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The Sona will be streamed in the Senate, and senators can choose to watch it from their offices or from their homes.

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TAGS: Batasang Pambansa, Congress, duterte, Harry Roque, House, Palace, Sona
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