Palace plans ‘blended’ SONA for Duterte

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech after administering the oath to the newly elected local government officials and party-list representatives during a ceremony at the Malacañan Palace on June 25, 2019. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month would be held in a different manner in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and described it as “blended SONA.”

“That’s being discussed. I think kung mayroon tayong blended learning, we will also have a blended SONA,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said last week that there was a suggestion for Duterte to deliver his SONA on July 27 at the presidential palace.

“There is a suggestion that the President will deliver his State of the Nation Address in Malacañang and it is up to the senators and congressmen on where they would want to listen,” Sotto said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also said the Presidential Security Group was not keen on the idea of gathering around 5,000 people inside the House of Representatives for the SONA. Mass gatherings are currently prohibited to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

“We are ready for both video teleconferencing or actual,” PSG chief Col. Jesus Durante III said.

Under the Constitution, the President must deliver an annual report to Congress every 4th Monday of July in a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Traditionally, government officials, lawmakers, and business leaders convene at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, where the President delivers his SONA.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, mass gatherings are prohibited.

The President of the Philippines is required by the Constitution to give an annual report to the nation and disclose policy directions before a joint session of Congress. However, there were instances that a chief executive did not deliver the SONA inside the legislative building.

In 1950, then-President Elpidio Quirino delivered the SONA via radio broadcast from Baltimore, Maryland. In 1973 and 1974, then-President Ferdinand Marcos held it in Malacañang./Stacy Ang

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