By Genalyn Kabiling
In light of the health and security restrictions to stem the coronavirus outbreak, President Duterte may deliver a "blended" State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month, Malacañang announced on Monday.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque raised the possible changes in the President’s fifth SONA compared to the traditional way he delivers the annual speech based on recent discussions at the Palace.
Under the Constitution, the President is mandated to deliver his SONA before Congress at the opening of its regular session every fourth Monday of July. The annual speech, which contains the President's report on the state of the country, plans for the coming year, and proposed legislative measures, is traditionally delivered at the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City.
But with the coronavirus threat, Roque conceded that adjustments will be made in the President’s upcoming SONA.
"That's being discussed," Roque said during a televised press briefing, when asked if the President will deliver the SONA via teleconferencing or stick to the traditional rites. "I think kung mayroon tayong (I think if we have) blended learning, we will also have a blended SONA," he added.
Roque made the reference to blended learning being planned by the government that involves a combination of limited face-to-face classes, online learning, and printed modules.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the President may give the next SONA in Malacañang based on the initial discussions between the executive branch and the legislature. He said it would be up to the lawmakers where they would choose to watch or listen to the President’s address.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also noted that the President could deliver a televised SONA given the strict quarantine protocols. Another possible scenario is to limit the number of lawmakers inside the Batasan session hall. He noted that the Presidential Security Group has opposed having thousands of people gathered at the Batasan where the SONA is traditionally held.