New RTVM team handling Duterte SoNA coverage on Monday

Published July 25, 2020, 10:58 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the coverage of President Duterte’s State- of- the- Nation Address (SoNA) on Monday will push through with a new team from the Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) after two members of the broadcast media group tested positive for COVID-19.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Andanar made the statement days before the President delivers his fifth SoNA.

In a statement, Andanar said the coverage of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the annual event will push through.

“Our coverage will proceed as planned,” he said.

“The (RTVM) will continue on their coverage plan with the deployment of a different team that is not among those who have been in contact with its two COVID-19 positive personnel,” he added.

According to Andanar, precautionary measures, such as testing, will be conducted for the SoNA assigned team in order to ensure the safety of Duterte and the rest of the audience at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

“Although this instance is an evident impediment for the PCOO and RTVM, we will continue to carry on in fulfilling our mandate to the Filipino people as we continue to ensure our personnel’s safety towards beating COVID-19 and healing as one nation,” he said.

The RTVM is the only media group allowed inside the Batasang Pambansa during the SoNA. Private media groups were prohibited from covering the event live and were instead advised to hook up to RTVM’s feed and or monitor through PCOO’s social media pages and or PTV-4.  

RTVM Executive Director Demic Pabalan told ABS-CBN on Friday that the RTVM office in Malacañang was placed under lockdown after two of its personnel tested positive for COVID-19.  Pabalan said the lockdown is expected to last until next week.

He said both of the confirmed cases were asymptomatic. All other personnel who had contact with them were likewise tested on Friday.

Early last week, the PCOO suspended work at the New Executive Building (NEB) where the press briefings are held after one of its personnel tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Andanar, 10 personnel at the PCOO main office tested positive of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning. Meanwhile, seven cases were reported in its attached agencies which include the RTVM and PTV-4.

Of the said 17 cases, two died.