President Rodrigo Duterte could either physically deliver his fifth state of the nation address (SONA) at the usual venue or do it virtually, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there were only two options for Duterte to deliver his SONA on July 27 amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis.
Should Duterte opt to physically show up at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Roque said only 50 percent of the membership of both the Senate and House would be allowed to attend.
“Pupuwedeng pumunta physically si Presidente na merong lang around 50 [percent of] members of Congress both from the House and the Senate (The President can physically go to the Congress with only around 50 percent of lawmakers from both the House and Senate),” he said in a virtual presser.
He said that if Duterte prefers to deliver his SONA via live telecast, members of both the House and Senate will still have to show up at a 50 percent capacity.
Areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the least restrictive of all quarantines, 50 percent attendance of guests is permitted.
“Or pupuwedeng live telecast na lang siya pero reduced capacity rin dahil (Or we can do it via live telecast but) even under MGCQ it will have to be 50 percent of the capacity of Congress,” he said.
Currently, Metro Manila is under general community quarantine (GCQ) until July 15.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said he wants Metro Manila and Calabarzon to shift to MGCQ to reopen the economy.
Last month, Roque floated the possibility of having a “blended” style SONA, referring to a combination of having guests physically present while others opting to watch from their television sets or online.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there was a suggestion for Duterte to deliver his next SONA at Malacañan Palace.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the SONA would likely be conducted via teleconferencing, which has been the method used by Congress to hold sessions and committee hearings.
Duterte delivered his past four SONAs in the Session Hall of the House at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
Some government agencies have also scheduled pre-SONAs to discuss accomplishments under the Duterte administration.
The SONA is delivered by the President of the Philippines every year to report the state of the country, unveil the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures. (PNA)