Online SONA a ‘safe fallback’, says Roque

The possibility of President Duterte delivering an online State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be a "safe fallback" amid quarantine restrictions, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President may either deliver his fifth SONA at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City before a limited number of lawmakers or through video conference from Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

According to Roque, the Constitution does not actually specify the place where the President should deliver his annual address to the nation. The President's SONA is scheduled on July 27.

"Dalawa lang naman po 'yung pinagpipilian nga: Pupunta sa Kongreso na kaunti lang ang mga kongresista at senador na present or galing na lang sa Malago via online (There are two choices: Go to Congress where there will be few congressmen and senators present or deliver it via online transmission from Malago (clubhouse in Malacañang Park)," Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

"Pero kung makikita ninyo po, pati ang ASEAN Summit ngayon online na tapos iyong mga pagpre-present ng credentials ng mga ambassadors online na rin. So, either way it does not matter, ang importante lang naman, mag-ulat sa Kongreso (But you have seen that even the ASEAN summit are conducted online. The presentation of credentials of ambassadors is also (being done) online. So either way it does not matter; the important thing is to report to Congress)," he said.

Asked if the Palace prefers an online SONA, Roque said: "I will say that’s a safe fallback position."

Malacañang earlier said the President may deliver a “blended” SONA in light of the health and security restrictions during the pandemic.

The President is constitutionally mandated to deliver his SONA before Congress at the opening of its regular session every fourth Monday of July.  The speech contains the President's report on the state of the country, plans for the coming year and proposed legislative measures.