By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Security measures have been intensified in the House of Representatives Complex to ensure a safe and peaceful State of the Nation Address (SONA).
House Sergeant-at-Arms retired Major General Romeo Prestoza, chairman of the House of Representatives Task Force SONA 2019-Committee on Presidential Honors and Security, maintained that they have monitored all areas of security threats.
He explained that the Lower Chamber heightened its security measures, as President Duterte’s fourth SONA nears.
“Wala naman [security] changes. ‘Ung heightened po is from the ordinary to that level as stated po. Kasi nga po dahil palapit na ang SONA.Wala po kaming bagong [information] from the intel community. So wala pong changes sa mga preparations,” Prestoza said in a text message.
In a photo release yesterday, the Lower Chamber’s Press and Public Affairs Bureau said the House of Representatives “heightened its security measures in the HREP Complex to ensure a safe and peaceful SONA 2019.”
It disclosed that yesterday the Presidential Security Group (PSG) briefed the House Legislative Security Bureau (LSB) on the special X-ray machines that will be used on SONA day.
“Other security measures have also been employed in the lead-up to the SONA, such as the strict implementation of the “No Pre-SONA Security Lock-out Stickers, No Entry” and “No HRep ID, No Entry” policies that ensure House personnel and non-employees of the chamber with no official business inside the House shall not be allowed inside the HRep Complex,” it said.
“Security officers and K-9 units also thoroughly checked all equipment, parcels, and vehicles that are being brought into the House,” it added.
The House of Representatives implemented a three-day lock out starting July 19 as part of the security preparations for SONA.
“House Secretariat and Congressional staff who are tasked to work during the lock-out dates are allowed entry to the premises using their HRep IDs. Non-House personnel such as accredited media personnel, caterers and contractors who will enter the HRep Complex on lock-out dates are required to wear their company IDs with color-coded pre-SONA security lock-out stickers,” the House advisory said.
Non-organic personnel working on SONA day, such as stand-by MERALCO personnel, doctors and drivers of ambulance of accredited hospitals, shall be given provisional access passes, it said.
All parking areas inside the complex shall be cleared of all vehicles starting 6 p.m. of Sunday, the advisory said.
On SONA day, all parking spaces within the HRep Complex shall be strictly for vehicles bearing color-coded car passes on a “First Come, First Serve” basis, it said.