Minority Leader and Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. says he would rather that President Duterte take the safer option for his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SoNA).
In a virtual press conference by the Minority Bloc Wednesday, Abante was asked if he thought delivering the SoNA in Malacañang would be the better choice for the President given the threat of COVID-19.
“Although siniguro na (he has confirmed) that he will be coming to Congress this Monday (July 27), but of course we are also after his health and safety,” said the pastor-congressman.
Earlier in the presser, Abante underscored how much COVID-19 infections have surged in the country this month.
“We have tallied just over 70,000 cases, and for the past week we have averaged close to 2,000 new cases a day. At this rate, we will breach the six-figure mark by August,” he warned.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that the 75-year-old Duterte would follow tradition by physically going to Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City to deliver his fifth SoNA. The distance from his official residence to Batasan Pambasa–home of the House of Representatives–is just under 18 kilometers.
The threat to the Chief Executive’s health will be tempered by unprecedented health and sanitation protocols, as well as a plan to allow just 127 people (as of Wednesday) inside the session hall as audience for the speech.
House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales said they would finalize the number of allowed attendees by Friday.
Last week, Duterte’s fellow Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) stalwart, Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, also advised the “mayor” against making a personal appearance at Batasan on July 24.
“Congress (House) has already 16 positive cases [of COVID-19] of which two have died. He would be more safe in Malacañang,” Pimentel said.
The number of House employees who have contracted the incurable acute respiratory illness has since climbed to 18.