PSG ensures smooth, safe SONA next month

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) has assured the public that President Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month will go smoothly despite protocols being implemented against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III (Malacañang file photo)

PSG commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III made the statement as preparations for Duterte's sixth and final SONA continued.

In an interview with State-run PTV-4, Durante said this year's SONA at the Batasang Pambansa will go smoothly.

"This will be the last SONA of the President, so we will ensure and assure the Filipino people that it will go smoothly and safely as with the past state of the nation addresses of the President," he said.

"Nagkaroon na po ng template, since last year is pandemic na po, at natuloy rin naman po ang SONA ng Presidente (We already had a template. We have the pandemic since last year and the SONA pushed through)," he added.

Durante said the PSG has been preparing for Duterte’s final SONA on July 26, 2021, since last month and was already at the second phase of preparations.

“PSG started early on, as early as May, sa (the) security preparations for the President’s SONA. We already conducted series of meetings with our counterparts, as well as we already conducted ocular and site inspections,” he said.

Durante added that the PSG will soon be conducting simulation exercises involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"But of course, with all of these, the PSG emphasized the strict implementation of health and safety protocols in all of the activities," he said.

The PSG has said that it was mulling only allowing fully vaccinated individuals to physically attend President Duterte's SONA and all other future presidential events.

Only a few Cabinet members and lawmakers, who tested negative for coronavirus in their RT-PCR and rapid tests, can enter the session hall.

Before the pandemic, SONAs used to be filled with attendees. There also was a red carpet where government officials and their wives had the chance to show off their fashion sense and advocacies.

However, last year, even members of the media were prohibited inside the Batasan premises and were only allowed to tap into the broadcast feed of state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) for their coverage.