Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be the most austere, simplest, and least attended in the country’s recent history.
“Recent history” of course precludes the SONA delivered through a radio broadcast by President Elpidio Quirino in his hospital bed in the United States in January, 1950.
Despite the absence of the red carpet where the political Who’s Who in the nation and diplomat guests will walk, this year’s SONA could be one of the most awaited of the presidential speeches of all chief executives that headed the nation.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped nearly all nations of the world will make these scenes possible.
On July 27, President Duterte will deliver his fifth SONA at the Batasang Pambansa with only a handful Congress members and guests expected to join him at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City.
Still, popular movie director Joyce Bernal will direct the whole event, her third under the Duterte presidency.
“Director Joyce Bernal will be directing the event, this is her third appearance. We also prepared a back-up venue in Malacanang in case there will be threat to the health of the President,” Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) Executive Director Demic Pabalan said Wednesday during the SONA coverage briefing of the House of Representatives with members of the media.
With the singing of the National Anthem, Pabalan said there will be no live singing but only a recorded or media playback of chosen children from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
In addition, House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales, said only 25 solons will be allowed in the plenary.
The social media are abuzz with the supposed line-up of handpicked House members who will personally witness the SONA event.
The group of congressmen allegedly invited to the plenary hall were behind the rejection by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises of the franchise application of ABS-CBN.
However, there remains no confirmation from the Lower House leadership on whether the list of the privileged few solons is authentic or not.
Unlike the previous years, this time there will be no more entourage to welcome the President as he enters the Batasan premise.
The SONA will be broadcast live on television, Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms.
And because of this, the speech will be unedited, Pabalan said.
Pabalan also gave a guarantee that there will be no editing of the event.
This came after concerns were raised regarding the “editing out” of some parts of the President’s taped speech in Jolo, Sulu.
“Hindi edited, verbatim, kung ano yung events na mangyayari, ilalabas ng RTVM,” he added.
No ambush interview or media briefing after the SONA.
House Administrative Department Deputy Secretary General Ramon Ricardo Roque said that senators and House members, as well as technical staff, who will attend the SONA are required to undergo both RT-PCR test and rapid testing to ensure that they are cleared of COVID-19.
Security will remain on high alert, the organizers said.