Deputy Majority Leader and Camiguin lone district Rep. Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo believes that the Batasan Complex will be safe enough for President Duterte on July 27 when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“I’m confident that the Executive Branch and Congress will be able to implement measures that will keep the President and all attendees and staff safe,” Romualdo said.
Malacanang announced Monday that President Duterte will physically deliver his annual SONA at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City despite the threat of the COVID-19.
The House of Representative recently confirmed its 17th case of COVID-19 on Monday.
Romualdo, a member of the powerful Rules Committee, said this year’s SONA will observe the necessary changes as dictated by the current health crisis.
“Delivering the SONA in person in the Batasan would certainly be more risky in terms of the President, senators, congressmen, other attendees, and all the personnel and staff working in the background having some exposure to one another but I think the risks can be properly mitigated,” he said.
“It’s been reported that only 50 people will be allowed in the session hall and physical distancing will surely be imposed. Since it will be quite a small (number of) SONA (attendees), the number of personnel and staff allowed inside the House of Representatives Complex could be restricted too and I’m sure everyone allowed inside will undergo health checks and screening for COVID-19 symptoms,” Romualdo said.
The House of Representatives has been carrying out blended sessions or hearings (mixed physical presence and virtual presence among solons) during all levels of quarantine, including the recent hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application and the inquiry on exorbitant electricity bills during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Romualdo said that while he sees no problem with the President delivering his SONA virtually this year, he totally gets why Duterte is choosing to stick to tradition.
“That the President will address Congress at the start of our regular sessions is, after all, a presidential duty imposed by the Constitution and so I understand why the President would want to do it in person and not through virtual means,” he said.