Duterte SONA at Batasan?

President Duterte could deliver his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Ronald dela Rosa confirmed on Thursday that they were informed that Duterte may "possibly" deliver his SONA before lawmakers at the House of Representatives' headquarters on July 27.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier said this was one of the "blended" approach to the Chief Executive's annual address given the restrictions on mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The other option was that he would be in Malacanang via video conference.

Zubiri said the Presidential Security Group wanted the capacity of the plenary hall to be limited to a maximum of 50 persons.

Eight slots were given to senators who wanted to be physically present at the Batasan complex, while the remaining slots were allotted for congressmen and a few of their staff.

"So it really will be skeletal group of congressmen and senators listening to the President, no other persons will be invited, and Congress will be on lockdown to protect the members of Congress and of course the President," Zubiri said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, in text message, said the plan remains "tentative" and that Duterte has yet to decide if he wants to hold his SONA at Batasan.

 Roque said preparations are ongoing for Duterte’s fifth SONA but declined to give details. "Let’s just wait. I cannot dampen the element of surprise of the SONA," he said.