More guests, celebrity singer, security for Aquino’s last SONA
Record-high attendance is expected for President Benigno Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, the House of Representatives Secretary General said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Secretary General Marilyn Barua Yap said, however, that they are going to treat Aquino’s last SONA like the previous ones – with all of it as special as the last.
“(While it may be) the last one, it’s always special. Ang gumagawa naman ng special sa SONA yung actors, at ano ang sasabihin ng Presidente. These are the ones that make it exciting,” Yap said.
Yap said since this is Aquino’s last SONA, the invited guests in the plenary may reach its maximum at 2,750.
As of press time, Yap said they have sent out as much as 2,700 invitations for guests in the plenary.
“Basta last SONA of an outgoing President and first SONA of an incoming President, more seating sa plenary on the floor,” Yap said, adding that chairs would also be set up on the north wing lobby for a livestream of the address.
While the Secretary General considers all SONAs special, Yap said it is the first time they invited a celebrity to sing the national anthem.
Yap said she only hoped to invite a children’s choir to perform, but she was told a colleague lived nearby Asia’s Got Talent finalist Gwyneth Dorado in Antipolo.
When asked, the 10-year-old singer gladly agreed, Yap said.
Yap said she has requested for a P10,000 talent fee for Dorado. Yap said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. usually gives money for such occasions.
Yap said her office has given a P3,000 to P5,000 token for Dorado’s gown.
“(She’s the first celebrity) and the youngest. Maganda din na may fresh for SONA. Nakakatuwa yung bata, maganda din naman achievements ng bata. Alangan namang hiphop, naghahanap tayo ng pagtitipiran na hindi mababawasan ng quality,” Yap said.
Dorado was finalist of the recently concluded Asia’s Got Talent. The Filipino shadow play group El Gamma Penumbra emerged as the champion, while Filipino classical singer Gerphil Flores was runner-up.
As for the expenses, Yap said the budget ranges from P2 million to P2.5 million, but she said it would not exceed last year’s budget at P2.3 million.
The budget would cover only food and reception activities. Yap said the other paraphernalia like publications and signage are either covered by their internal budget or donated by government agencies.
The food menu also costs P700 per head, Yap said.
A no-fly zone within a one-kilometer radius from the House of Representatives would also be enforced around 1 p.m. on the day of the SONA, Yap said.
As for security, Yap said they would deploy 1,500 security personnel, including from the legislative security bureau, for the internal security, and another 3,000 to 3,500 for the external.
Though her office doesn’t handle security along the streets, Yap said the Philippine National Police usually deploys 3,000 to 6,000 personnel from the Quezon City Police District.
Off-limit areas in the House of Representatives would also be on lock down starting Friday, July 24.
“We always try to be paranoid in terms of security. It’s something you can’t really anticipate na may mangyayari. Mabigat ang risk, we try the best we can,” Yap said.
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