House expects ‘nearly back to normal’ Sona 2023; Paul Soriano back as director | Inquirer News

House expects ‘nearly back to normal’ Sona 2023; Paul Soriano back as director

/ 04:43 PM July 04, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The upcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would be “nearly back to normal,” as the House of Representatives anticipates more attendees than last year.

According to House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, they expect the plenary’s 1,700 to 2,000 seating capacity to be filled up, and they also assured attendees there would be contingency measures especially since around 400 seats were removed when the House remodeled the plenary.


“So ito (So we’re) almost back to normal eh. In fact, the Department of Health Secretary (Teodoro Herbosa) has recommended the lifting of the health, the end of the pandemic emergency,” Velasco said.


“So we will have contingency planning in case we will have more guests than usual. Because we expect more guests than the previous Sona, not only because of the interest of the people but we’re back to normal eh, we have a very popular President, very popular Speaker and Senate President […] So we expect a bigger crowd than last year,” he added.

READ: Bongbong Marcos says COVID health emergency ‘de facto’ lifted – DOH chief

Velasco also confirmed that Presidential Adviser for Creative Communications Paul Soriano would still be in charge of directing the Sona, but there might be other people tapped to help him.

Soriano directed Marcos’ first Sona.

“Si Paul Soriano pa rin. Kasama namin sa preparations. Yun so far, there could be more additional help but so far as of this moment si Paul Soriano ang designated director,” Velasco said.

(It’s still Paul Soriano.  He was with us in preparations.  That’s it so far, there could be more additional help but so far as of this moment Paul Soriano has been designated as the director.)

Earlier, the House official said that COVID-19 health protocols like testing and filling out of health declaration forms would no longer be needed for vaccinated guests of the Sona.


Velasco however clarified that unvaccinated individuals and those with COVID-19 symptoms are discouraged from attending the Sona.  Should they really need to be present at the event, they will be asked to submit a negative RT-PCR test result taken 48 hours prior.

He also said that vaccinated guests would be required to present their vaccination cards or vaccination certificates as proof.  Vaccination would mean having at least two primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Marcos’ second Sona would be the first in four years where most participants would not be required to undergo COVID-19 tests.  In 2022, during the Chief Executive’s first Sona, more guests were allowed to attend but they were required to present negative RT-PCR test results.


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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Marcos, Paul Soriano, Sona

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