‘COVID-19 won’t stop Duterte from doing his job,’ says Roque

Published July 21, 2020, 4:23 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte may be “vulnerable” to the new coronavirus disease but will continue to carry out his duties, including delivering his upcoming State of Nation Address (SONA), Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that the Palace is worried about the President’s health but the coronavirus threat will not stop Duterte from performing his job.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

The President is scheduled to deliver his fifth SONA before a joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City on Monday, July 27, under intensive safety and health measures. The 75-year-old Duterte has decided to go to the Batasan instead of delivering his address via video conference from the Palace.

“Siyempre worried dahil senior citizen ang ating Presidente (Of course we are worried because the President is a senior citizen) and he’s particularly vulnerable to the disease,” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

“He may be vulnerable pero patuloy pa rin ang kanyang trabaho bilang Presidente at nakasaad sa saligang batas sa takdang araw ng buwan ng Hulyo siya ay magre-report sa Kongreso at gagawin po niya ‘yan (He maybe vulnerable but his job as President will continue. The Constitution states he must report to Congress on a specify day in July and he will do that),” he said.

While health measures are being taken to avoid infection, Roque stressed it was important to continue to “dance” or live with the virus.

“Sasayawan po natin ang sakit. Gagawın ang ating katungkulan. Mabubuhay po tayo sa kabila ng COVID -19 (We will dance to the disease. We will do our job. We will live despite COVID-19),” he said.

Roque said there will be limited number of people allowed inside the Batasan when the President delivers his SONA as a precaution against the coronavirus. 

He said 15 Cabinet members are expected to accompany the President while 50 members from the two houses of Congress will be allowed to attend.

Asked if the President will be joined by family members, Roque said he was still unsure about this.

“Ang alam ko lang po marami po iyong kasama ng Presidente pero karamihan po diyan ay siyempre ang Presidential Security Group (What I know is the President will be accompanied mostly by (members of) the Presidential Security Group),” he said.